Quinta de Saes Reserva Encruzado
“If God were to design a wine-growing region, what he would come up with would look a lot like the Dao.” – Alvaro Castro Since 1980, Alvaro Castro has been the winemaker for his family’s properties at Quinta da Pellada and Quinta de Saes. In that time, he has established himself as the region’s pre-eminent winemaking mind, crafting elegant wines of place that showcase the explosive aromatics and cool-climate freshness that are intrinsic to this special terroir. Quinta de Saes’ reds are field blends, drawing on the tradition of inter-planting varietals in a place to give a more cohesive and complete picture of the terroir, as well as the ability to adapt to vintages and maintain a thread of continuity from one vintage to the next. He is a fierce traditionalist, and the “old-school” nature of his wines showcase the brilliance that comes from an honest expression of place and time without intervention or mitigation. His wines embody the idea that “wine is made in the vineyard,” and he is unapologetically critical of winemakers who mess with their raw product too much. He speaks most passionately about making wines that “reflect the soil.” He doesn’t put much stock in wine-making as an exact science – the wine is what it is, and it’s made that way because that’s what the land and the fruit are telling him to do. The results are undeniable – these wines are unmistakably Dao, and represent the apotheosis of this beautiful appellation.
WHAT MAKES THIS WINE UNIQUE? This is a classic expression of the indigenous Dao varietal Encruzado. Mineral driven, high toned acidity and impressive precision on the palate make this very reminiscent of Chablis, with terrific aging potential.
RATING HISTORY: 2016 90WA, 2014 90WA
GRAPE: 100% Encruzado. Sustainably farmed vines, averaging 20 years old, planted to granite and sand at 660 m (2,165 ft) elevation.
PAIRING SUGGESTIONS: Quinta de Saes Encruzado is a perfect pair for richer seafood dishes, particularly shellfish and white-fleshed fish. Its minerality makes it a great pair for clams and oysters.
VINIFICATION AND AGEING: Natural yeast fermentation in stainless steel; racked to stainless for 3 months of battonage. Aged in stainless for an additional 9 months and racked to bottle.
PRODUCTION: 250 cs
LOCATION, SOIL, CLIMATE: Quinta de Saes is located in the northern part of the Dao, in Northern Central Portugal. The plots for this vineyard are planted to granite at 500m (1640 ft) elevation. The Dao has a temperate continental climate, protected from the cold winds of the Atlantic by the Luso Mountains, from the warm winds of Extremadura to the west by the Sierra da Estrela, and from the arid heat of the Douro by the Serra do Caramulo. Average temperature in the growing season is 65F (18.5C). Rainfall is 26 inches per annum, with no irrigation.
TASTING NOTES: Pale, almost colorless with green tints. On the nose, citrus and green apple notes are overlaid with wet stone, salt and white flowers. On the palate, weighty but balanced, with precise cut to the acidity and mineral notes. Juicy, generous citrus and stone fruit give way to an intensely mineral finish.
All photos: Friederike Paetzold