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Portugal's Bairrada region:
Quinta do Encontro and the wines of Dão Sul

My Bairrada trip began with a trip to Luis Pato, to try his wines and also those of his daughter, Filipa's – you can read about this here and here. The next stop was at Quinta do Encontro, which is part of the Dão Sul group. If Pato can be regarded as a modernizer in Bairrada, the Encontro is doubly so. Dão Sul have just constructed a remarkable new winery here, which has, as its primary purpose, one suspects, a role in wine tourism, because of its striking architectural design and wonderful restaurant.

Carlos Campolargo is another Bairrada modernizer, and it took him ages to get permission for his striking new winery, close to Encontro. He must have been a it upset when Dão Sul quickly got permission for their even more striking creation in direct eye-line of the Campolargo winery (pictured below is the Campolargo winery viewed from Encontro). 

‘Everything is round’, says Dão Sul’s Carlos Lucas of the new Encontro, ‘like a barrel or a bottle’. I met with him and one of his winemakers, Lucia Freitas, who was driving Carlos around so he could get some work done on the journey. ‘Bairrada is an old, traditional region with an old mentality’, says Carlos. ‘It’s common to think of Bairrada as a wine to keep for 20 years. We are making Bairrada for younger people: the design is attractive for younger people; it’s a cellar for younger people. We believe in the potential of the region: it’s not a region for quantity, but it is for quality. People have been surprised that we’ve spent so much money here’.  

Carlos Lucas and Lucia Freitas


The staircase connecting the various levels of the building is like a corkscrew. The cellar is really well designed, with capacity for 200 tons a year. The four small tanks in the centre have a remote automatic processing capacity, so winemakers can do remontage from home, for example. 

The building was controversial when it first opened two years ago. ‘People likened it to a bullfighting arena or a goldfish bowl’, reveals Carlos.

Of course, Encontro is just a small part of what Dão Sul is about. They have two cellars in the Douro, three cellars in the Dão, one in Estremadura, a new one in Alentejo, plus cellars in Priorat, Argentina and Brazil. There are eight winemakers in the team, five of whom are female, with Carlos the big boss man.

‘Our philosophy is to make good wines for a good price’, says Carlos. ‘We started doing this 10 years ago. I like making top wines, and we have lots of these, but I like even more making 1 million bottles of good wine’.


After a tasting, we had some lunch. It was fantastic – the kitchen here really know how to perform.

Quinta de Cabriz Colheita Seleccionada Branco 2007 Dão
Fresh, fruity nose is bright with a lovely grapefruit and lemon freshness. It’s crisp and refreshing with lovely focued flavours. 1 million bottles of this are made, and it sells out. 87/10

Quinta de Cabriz Encruzado 2007 Dão
100% fermented in new oak, but with no toast. Bright and fresh, with real presence. There’s a lovely herbal, lemony quality here and some grapefruity freshness. 89/100

Casa de Santar Reserva Branco 2007 Dão
Really powerful wine with lovely dense herb, lemon, spice and aniseed notes, as well as well integrated oak. Remarkably different: intense and full. 91/100

Paço das Cunhas de Santar Vinho do Contador Branco 2006 Dão
Deep yellow colour.
Wonderfully sophisticated, dense lemony nose with some well integrated toasty oak notes, as well as a bit of herbiness. Lovely density and fine minerality on the palate: this is a serious effort. 93/100

Quinta do Encontro Bical 2007 Bairrada
Slightly minerally, stony nose.
The palate shows lemon fruit with some herbs and something that seems like a very subtle mustiness, although it’s not like cork taint. Not showing well. 82/100

Conde de Sabugal Branco 2007 Douro
This is a fresh wine that’s meant ‘for sun’, says Carlos Lucas. Fresh, bright, grapey nose. The palate is lively with a fresh herbal quality and a subtle bitter grapey twist on the finish. 86/100

Quinta de Cabriz 2005 Dão
A really great value-for-money wine. Carlos says that he could sell double the quantity. Sweet, open cherry fruit nose is really attractive and smooth. The palate has a subtle, tarry, savoury edge with hints of chocolate and spice. 87/100

Quinta de Cabriz 2006 Dão
Fresh, sweet, dark cherry and blackberry nose. The palate has nice freshness and density with lovely pure raspberry and blackberry fruit as well as some spice. Serious considering the price. 88/100

Cortello 2006 Estremadura
Another inexpensive wine. Sweet berry and cherry fruit nose. The palate is generous and sweet with a cherry tang to the bright fruit. Juicy, ripe and quite dense. 85/100

Monte da Cal Vinho de Saturno 2004 Alentejo
From the north of the Alentejo region, this retails for €30–35. A blend of Alicante Bouschet, Baga, Trincadeira and Touriga Nacional. Sweet, pure, ripe dark fruit nose with a hint of chocolate and vanilla oak. Quite elegant. The palate is dense, ripe and lush with lovely purity and concentration, as well as some structure. There’s oak here, but also lovely minerally depth. 93/100

Quinta das Tecedeiras Reserva 2005 Douro
A very old, 16 ha vineyard that’s only just in the Douro Superior. Lovely sweet dark cherry fruit with vivid spiciness. Quite lush and floral, too. The palate is firm and spicy with good structure under the lush, pure fruit. A ripe, seductive style with richness but balance. Almost new world in style. 93/100

Encontro 1 2004 Bairrada
Baga with Touriga Nacional.
Aromatic, fresh, slightly lifted nose with dark forest fruits. Perfumed and bright. Beautifully dense palate with lovely spiciness and pure, elegant fruit, backed up by earthy, spicy structure. A lovely fusion of modernity and tradition (some stems are used). 92/100

Encontro Baga 2005 Bairrada
Pure, fresh, spicy dark fruits nose with some bright berry notes. There’s some spicy, earthy character, too. The palate is lush and pure with sweet dark fruits and firm but smooth tannins. Modern-styled Baga, and really good. 91/100

Grand Encontro 2005 Bairrada
A blend of Baga and Touriga Nacional. Brooding, dark, spicy nose is fresh and full with dark cherry and blackcurrant fruit, framed in an earthy spiciness. The palate is firm and grippy, as well as being quite lush, with lovely fresh acidity and dense, spicy, tannins. This is really structured but also has lovely fruit. 92/100

Quinta de Cabriz Escolha 2004 Dão
3000 bottles produced of this single-vineyard wine, with contributions from Touriga Nacional, Tinta Cão, Alfrocheiro and Tinta Roriz. The vineyard has granitic soils and is located between pines.
Beautiful blackcurrant and blackberry fruit to the nose, which is sweet, pure and brooding. The palate is concentrated, fresh and pure with complex cherry and blackberry fruit complemented by slightly earthy, spicy structure. Rich and modern, but really elegant. A brilliant wine. 94/100

Paço das Cunhas de Santar Vinho do Contador 2004 Dão
There's potential for confusion here. Dão Sul have a property called Paço das Cunhas de Santar, but there were problems because there's another producer, Casa de Santar, with a similar name. So Dao Sul took over the management of Casa de Santar, a historic property with 100 hectares of vines, a few years back, and make their wines. This a wine that's made traditionally in lagars with stems, and it’s fantastic. Carlos Lucas describes it as ‘our Barca Velha from Dão’. Foot trodden in lagar with stems, this is made of Touriga Nacional, Alfrocheiro, Jaen and Tinta Cão. Brooding savoury dark fruits nose with subtle earthy, spicy notes. The palate is pure and elegant, yet super-concentrated with some spicy tannic structure. Stylish with real poise and balance. 94/100

CCCC (Four C) 2004
This is a pan-Portugal blend, and four barrels were made. Concentrated inky red/black colour. Very spicy, dense nose with ripe dark fruits. This is big with real power. The palate is intense with ripe, dark spicy fruit and huge tannic structure, as well as some chocolate and roast coffee notes from the oak. Really ripe, yet structure to: impenetrable at present but with real potential. 93/100

Duorat 2004 Vinho de Mesa
Originally called Dourat (but this had to be changed because it was too close to Douro), this is a blend of wine from the Douro and Priorat in Spain – two regions which share some similarity in terms of terroir. It’s a collaboration between Carlos Lucas and Josep Puig. Sweet, pure and dense with great concentration and minerally depth to the fruit. It’s structured, but the tannins are quite smooth with some spiciness. There’s an earthy richness on the finish. A serious, modern, structured red wine with real appeal and focus. 93/100

Quinta das Tecedeiras Vintage Port 2004
6000 bottles made. Lovely purity and freshness to the dark, sweet fruit. The palate is concentrated and shows deliciously spicy, earthy structure. Fresh, fruity and quite vinous. Pure. 93/100

Wines tasted 07/08  
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