The Dão wine region is one of the oldest in the country. However, it only received official recognition as a DOC (Denominação de Origem Controlada) in 1990. It is located in the higher regions of Portugal, along the Serra da Estrela, Serra do Caramulo, and Serra da Nave mountain ranges. The vineyards typically occupy small plots of land, which can range in elevation from 600 feet all the way to 3300 feet.
Learn more about the Portuguese mountains on A Road Trip Through Northern Portugal!
The location of the Dão region keeps its temperate climate sheltered from the chills and rigors of the Atlantic Ocean. The region receives plenty of rain in the winter, keeping the soils hydrated during hot, dry summers. The cooler nights and warmer days allow for a slower ripening process, producing a strong aroma and acidity that makes rich, elegant wines.
Between the north-west corner of the Dão region and the southern part of the Vinho Verde region lies a small area called Lafões. This region, also known as the Dão-Lafões region, produces wines with a very high acidity. They are more like Vinho Verde than Dão wines. Although this region is small, it is not to be overlooked when considering the wines of Portugal.
Some grapes you might find in the Dão region include Touriga Nacional, Alfrocheiro, Aragonez, Jaen, Baga, Bastardo and Tinta Pinheira. White grapes include Bical, Cercial, Malvasia Fina, Rabo de Ovelha and Verdelho.