Alvaro Castro is a true original in the world of wine and his two estates (separate properties, but the same wines are bottled under both names) are among the leaders of this appellation set on a high plateau between mountain ranges. The Pellada estate dates back to the 16th century and wine was made there until 1945, when the family reverted to selling to the local co-op. Alvaro took control in 1989 and established the winery at Saes and has been building a reputation for both red and white wines of great complexity and aging potential ever since.
This is Alvaro’s peak cuvée of the Dão’s signature Touriga Nacional grape. A magnificently endowed yet balanced wine with the aromatic stature of a great Côte Rôtie. Vin de garde of the highest imaginable class.
While Encruzado does the heavy lifting in this imaginative blend, the Cercial adds some attractive bottom notes and textural intrigue. Not better or worse than the Encruzado e below, but satisfyingly different.
We tasted an older example of this wine (from 2005) and found a kinship to Chablis. Even in its youth, it is minerally, but there’s more fruit in these relatively ripe vintages, and over time it will blend into the minerality until they are inseparable – supple and flinty at once. Encruzado will make the reputation of Dão as a great white region, without a doubt.
Alvaro makes a dizzying number of singular upper-level wines, such is his curiosity about the potential of his different parcels and varietals. This is “merely” his reserve red, and it represents a palpable step up from the cheerfulness of his other cuvées above into the realm of serious” red wine. As such, it offers great value, like everything he does.