If God were to design a wine-growing region, what he would come up with would look a lot like the Dao. – Alvaro Castro Since 1980, Alvaro Castro has been the winemaker for his family’s properties at Quinta da Pellada and Quinta de Saes. In that time, he has established himself as the region’s pre-eminent winemaking mind, crafting elegant wines of place that showcase the explosive aromatics and cool-climate freshness that are intrinsic to this special terroir. Quinta de Saes’ reds are field blends, drawing on the tradition of interplanting varietals in a place to give a more cohesive and complete picture of the terroir, as well as the ability to adapt to vintages and maintain a thread of continuity from one vintage to the next. He is a fierce traditionalist, and the “old-school” nature of his wines showcase the brilliance that comes from an honest expression of place and time without intervention or mitigation. His wines embody the idea that “wine is made in the vineyard,” and he is unapologetically critical of winemakers who mess with their raw product too much. He speaks most passionately about making wines that “reflect the soil.” He doesn’t put much stock in winemaking as an exact science – the wine is what it is, and it’s made that way because that’s what the land and the fruit are telling him to do. The results are undeniable – these wines are unmistakably Dao, and represent the apotheosis of this beautiful appellation. The first historical references about Quinta da Pellada seem to be around 1570. The Dão wine region was established in 1908.
Quinta de Saes Reserva White'18 (2 btl) The 2018 Branco Reserva Quinta de Saes is an equal blend of Bical, Encruzado and Cercial from old vines, unoaked but in concrete eggs. It comes in at 13.2% alcohol. This has layers of depth and some power too, but it retains its refinement and understatement. Good acidity lifts the fruit beautifully, and the fruit is very tasty. Mineral and lush on the palate with a beautifully textured dry clean finish. Allow some time to open up for optimal enjoyment
Quinta de Saes Touriga Nacional'16 (2 btl) The 2016 Touriga Nacional Quinta de Saes was aged for 18 months in well-used French barriques and comes in at 13% alcohol. This is meant to be a lighter, more elegant Touriga. Bright ruby-purple. Expressive, swirling aromatics of raspberry, pomegranate, rose petal, orange peel, and pepper. On the palate, bright and generous, with mouthwatering intensity to the red berry fruit. Finishes floral and salty, with a precise mineral edge. There’s a savory umami quality that overlays the whole thing, making it positively gulpable with or without food. Elegant and refined, but playful, this is a gorgeous expression of unadulterated Touriga and the Dão
Quinta de Saes Estagio Prolongado'15 (2 btl) 70% Red blend, 15% Touriga Naçional, 15% Alfrocheiro. Sustainably grown vines planted in 1990. Tended in granite, clay and sandy soil at 500 m (1,640 ft) elevation. Bright ruby-garnet. On the nose, sour cherry, rose petal, black pepper and wet stone leap from the glass in impressive fashion on the palate, juicy and bright, with graceful integration of red cherry, raspberry and cranberry fruit intermixed with spicy black pepper. Finishes long, with beautiful fresh acidity and a consistent beam of minerality through the finish. One of those gems that just keeps on giving especially after some bottle ageing.