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“If God were to design a wine-growing region, what he would come up with would look a lot like the Dão.” – Álvaro Castro.
Since 1980, Álvaro Castro has been the winemaker for his family’s properties at Quinta da Pellada and Quinta de Saes. In that time, he 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. As he does at Quinta de Saes, Álvaro uses traditional plantings (field blends) and minimal intervention in his winemaking at Pellada to achieve and express the true story of the piece of land he is farming. While he lives and works at Quinta de Saes, Quinta da Pellada, which dates to the 16th century, is home to the older plantings in his charge, with vine ages dating back to the early 20th century. Álvaro 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 does not put much stock into winemaking as an exact science – wine is what it is, and it has been made that way because that is what the land and the fruit are telling him to do. The results are undeniable – these wines are unmistakably Dão and represent the apotheosis of this beautiful appellation.
WHAT MAKES THIS WINE UNIQUE?
Primus Branco is an old vine field blend harvested from a single high-altitude parcel at over 500m (1,500 ft) elevation. Comprised of 19+ indigenous white grape varieties, Primus is a rare creature, and a delicious throwback to the traditional field blends of the Dão.
2016 92WA; 2015 94WA, 91VFTC ; 2014 92WA, 2013 93 W&S Magazine Year's Best Portuguese Wines
Field blend of 19+ indigenous grapes including Encruzado, Cercial, Bical, Verdelho, Málvasia, and Terrantez planted to granite with lines of quartz, clay and sand at 500m (1,640 ft) elevation.
Roast chicken and pork, dishes with mushrooms – really anything with a hefty dose of herbs and umami.
VINIFICATION AND AGEING:
24 hours of maceration with the skins, followed by cold fermentation in stainless steel and used large format wood, using only indigenous yeast. Aged for 9 months in concrete egg, on the lees with no additional sulfur. 2 additional years of elevage in bottle prior to release. This is a vegan wine.
LOCATION, SOIL, CLIMATE:
Quinta da Pellada is located in the northern part of the Dão, in north-central Portugal. The plots for this vineyard are granite and quartz soils at 500m (1640 ft) elevation. Dão 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 east by the Sierra da Estrela, and from the arid heat of the Douro to the north by the Serra do Caramulo. Average temperature in the growing season is 57F (14C). Rainfall is 26 inches per year. No irrigation.
Brilliant pale gold. On the nose, mineral-driven scents of wet stone, stone fruits and lemon curd. On the palate, restrained and elegant, with more of that precise cut and mineral-driven character. Finishes with incredible persistence and length – this wine will continue to improve for some time.