Dão and Bairrada, Portugal’s wine regions
If you haven’t visited these regions yet, why wait? Discover the best regional wines and products!
Through the hills and valleys of Beira Alta, you will find the Dão region, with its rivers and mountains that allow the development of exceptional wines. Close by, from the calm sands of the coast to the lush vegetation of the mountainous interior of the region, also visit Bairrada and have the opportunity to combine the sun of the beach with the freshness of the mountain and the gastronomy with excellent wines.
The Dão region
In 1908 the Dão Demarcated Region was created. Located in north-central Portugal, in the province of Beira Alta, the geographical conditions are excellent for wine production. It is a territory that extends over hills and valleys, but is protected by mountain massifs that constitute an important barrier to the humid masses of the coast or to the harsh continental winds: to the north the mountains of Nave, Montemuro and Lapa, to the south the mountains of Buçaco, Açor and Lousã, to the east the Serra da Estrela and to the west the Serra do Caramulo. The “shelter” created by the mountain ranges that surround the region, favors the production of wines with high capacity for aging in bottle.
The Dão, the Mondego and the Alva are the three great rivers that cross this sinuous region where the vineyards arise predominantly between 400 and 700 meters of altitude and develop in granitic or schist soils, in the southern part of the region. The hydrographic network of the region, as well as the reliefs that gave rise to it, generate a diversity of microclimates of great viticultural significance.
The vineyards are made up of a wide variety of grape varieties. Among the red varieties are: Touriga Nacional, Alfrocheiro, Jaen, Aragonês, among others. In the white varieties, the dominant varieties are: Encruzado, Bical, Cerceal-Branco, Malvasia Fina, Verdelho, among others. The white wines are very aromatic, fruity and balanced. Red wines are also aromatic, full-bodied and can gain a lot of complexity after bottle ageing. With an excellent acidity and complex and delicate aromas, Dão wines combine perfectly with the gastronomy of the region. While discovering a beautiful wine, you will also find Serra da Estrela cheese, sausages, kid goat, Bravo de Esmolfe apple and sweets.
Discover the farms and their stories, the vineyards and the wineries. Here are a few suggestions:
Casa de Santar | Casa de São Matias | Quinta do Medronheiro | Pedra Cancela Adegas Lusovini | Quinta Chão de São Francisco
The Bairrada region
The Bairrada region is home to wines of excellence. The Denomination of Controlled Origin (DOC Bairrada) for red and white wines dates from 1979 and for sparkling wines from 1991. Bounded to the north by the river Vouga, to the south by the river Mondego, to the east by the mountains of Caramulo and Buçaco and to the west by the Atlantic Ocean, it is a region of mostly flat orography.
The vineyard rarely exceeds 120 meters in altitude and, due to the flatness of the land and the proximity of the ocean, benefits from a climate tempered by a strong Atlantic influence, with abundant rainfall and moderate average temperatures. Vines are grown on clay-limestone, sandy-clay and sandy-loam soils, depending on the predominance of each element in the soil. The winter is cool and the summer is hot, tempered by winds from the west and northwest, which are more frequent and intense in the areas closest to the sea.
The Baga grape variety is undoubtedly the queen of the region, which produces high quality red and sparkling wines. Still in the red varieties, we find other reference varieties: Alfrocheiro-Preto, Castelão, Touriga Nacional, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, among others. Regarding the white grapes, Arinto, Bical, Cercial, Fernão Pires, Chardonnay, among others, are distinguished.
Having been one of the first national regions to explore sparkling wines, Bairrada is considered the most important region in the country, regarding the production of this type of wine. Benefiting from the cool and humid climate, its elaboration is favored, providing grapes of high acidity and low alcohol content, giving rise to fruity sparkling wines, with a mineral touch and good structure. Any of these wines goes perfectly with many of Bairrada’s gastronomic specialties, from fresh fish from the coast, to its famous suckling pig and conventual sweets. A visit to Bairrada cannot be complete without tasting the Leitão à Bairrada, a business card of Bairrada gastronomy.
Take the opportunity to visit cellars and wineries in the region, where you can do wine tastings and do not neglect a visit to the Bairrada Wine Museum in Anadia and also to the Aliança Underground Museum, an underground museum where sparkling wines, wines and spirits age in perfect union with eight artistic collections. Some suggestions of cellars and wineries: Adega Luís Pato, Caves São João, Adega Campolargo, Caves Messias and Quinta das Bágeiras.
You won’t regret climbing the mountain and discovering the stunning Buçaco National Forest, where in the central core we find the Palace Hotel do Buçaco and the Convent of Santa Cruz. In the woods you will find various botanical species, many of them exotic. The Buçaco National Forest is one of the richest national forests in natural, architectural and cultural heritage.