on Portugal's Dão region
6: Casa de Passarela
Casa de Passarela is a lovely traditional-styled Portuguese
house. It’s owned by Manuel Santos Lima and his family, and is the
heart of the Passarela wine estate. After an extensive tour of the
highly photogenic vineyards, we had a lovely lunch of Calde Verde
(cabbage soup) and roast kid, with Quiejo de Serra (mountain sheeps
cheese) to finish.
The estate consists of 70 hectares, with 40 of these under
vine. Manuel has been running things here for 15 years and has
restructured the vineyards to improve quality. They are at an altitude
of 500 metres and mostly face south and west.
One thing that is immediately apparent about the vineyards
is the lack of small oak. No massed ranks of barriques in the cellar.
Manuel doesn’t use barrels. Instead, he concentrates on making
enjoyable, fruity Dão wines at very fair prices. Two different labels
are made, both called Somontes. Manuel hasn’t ruled out making a
more serious wine under the Casa de Passarela label when the vines are
a bit older. These aren’t the most complex of Dão wines, but they
are well made and represent brilliant value.
2001 Dão (white label)
This is bright, ripe and fruity with accessible red berry and
cherry fruits. Good acidity. Very enjoyable and fruity with a nice
savoury spicy edge. Smooth, soft and gently spicy. Very good+ 86/100
(€1.70 ex cellars)
Somontes 2003 Dão (black label)
Ripe sweet black cherry fruit on the nose, which is very inviting.
The palate shows a good concentration of sweet, accessible blackberry
and cherry flavour. There’s some acidity, too, but it is very nicely
rounded with lovely sweetness to the fruit. Very good+ 88/100 (€2.50
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