Arguably one of the finest, if not the greatest, white grape variety in Portugal, Encruzado finds its spiritual home in Dão, which is one of the oldest vine cultivation areas in Portugal. The three mountain ranges in the region offer a natural refuge from excessive Atlantic influences and strong, continental winds from Spain, thereby providing a temperate climate with the necessary diurnal differences to fully ripen Encruzado and the various indigenous varieties planted here.
Single varietal Encruzado wines made in Dão, especially those on higher altitudes and planted on mainly granitic soil, tend to be aromatic and floral, packed with yellow citrus, stone fruits and some light herbs, almost pine-like flavours, with a superb tension and mineral like character. It also has a high affinity towards oak so the best examples will also see Encruzado being fermented and/or raised in new French oak barrels to impart some vanillin & toasty flavours, provide a much richer texture or mouthfeel, and prolong its longevity with the additional tannins introduced.
We tried a bottle made by Álvaro Castro, one of the most important winemakers of Dão, and at almost a decade old post bottling, the wine showed a brilliant light lemon yellow core with bright citrus characters mingled with crisp, mineral tones, wet stones, tart stone fruits, barley and lemon pith. Medium+ acid and a medium to medium+ finish. Drinking really well at the moment and it was great with some Jamon Iberico croquettas, seafood paella and fairly young nuggets of Manchego. For something a bit more Asian, we would suggest trying it with Singapore Hokkien Mee, oyster omelette, Teochew cold poached mullet and braised pork belly with salted fish (咸鱼花腩煲).