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Pedra Cancela, Dão Encruzado “Vinha da Fidalga”Dão, Portugal 2019 (750mL)

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Pedra Cancela, Dão Encruzado “Vinha da Fidalga” Dão, Portugal 2019 (750mL)

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My first taste of today’s superb white was when we selected it for our “Explore 4” wine club. Then I tasted it again during a virtual tasting of Portuguese wines, which have been a subject of fascination for all of us at SommSelect. And believe me, I’ll be dipping back in a.s.a.p. because this is one of the most impressive white wine values I’ve ever seen. It's one that is priced to buy by the case, and you will never regret that decision. 


Encruzado is the grape variety and the region is the Dão, which people think of (if they think of it at all) as more of a red wine production zone. Located just south of the Douro Valley, where I once did an apprenticeship, the Dão produces some stellar, age worthy reds from grapes such as Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz, but really, the story for me right now is the white Encruzado, which many consider to be “THE” white grape of Portugal worth talking about on the world stage. Don’t let the price of this bottle fool you: There is some very serious white wine inside, wine that reminds me of much-more-expensive white Burgundies on the nose. There is structure, there is substance, and there is palpable soil character in this 2019, and, each time I return to it, I just shake my head in amazement. This wine only costs $22? For this level of density and class? I’m sold, and I’m certain you will be, too.



It’s not that Encruzado is new—the variety has long been celebrated as a genuinely “noble” variety by wine experts—but the revival of Portugal’s wine fortunes is, somewhat. Quality and investment has skyrocketed in the past two decades, but prices, as evidenced here, have yet to catch up. Whether it’s the emergence of powerful red “table wines” made from the traditional Port-wine grapes of the Douro, or the emergence of textured, aromatically complex Vinho Verdes that bear no resemblance to the light, fizzy whites of yore, there is a lot to be excited about in Portuguese wine right now.


The Dão appellation, like Vinho Verde, has mostly granitic soils, but it is further inland, with altitudes climbing past 1,000 meters in the Serra da Estrela, the highest mainland mountain range in Portugal. This is a more “continental” climate, with wider diurnal temperature swings, and Encruzado is a noble white variety to complement the region’s equally famous reds. The variety has the structure to undergo barrel fermentation and aging, giving the wines more voluptuous textures relative to the crisp, racy wines of the coast.


The Dão DOC boundaries were originally demarcated in 1908, making it one of the country’s oldest appellations. “Vinha da Fidalga” is in Carregal do Sal, in the central part of the region between the Dão and Mondego rivers. The soils in the high-altitude vineyards are composed of sandy topsoil over granite bedrock. The Pedra Cancela wines are part of a wide-ranging lineup produced by a firm called Lusovini, which is headquartered in the Dão region but produces wines from most of Portugal’s other key appellations. João Paolo Gouveia, an agricultural engineer and professor, oversees the Pedra Cancela vineyards and winery, with help in the cellar from enologist Sónia Martins. 


Today’s 2019  reminds me of a Puligny-Montrachet crossed with a serious coastal white.  It was hand-harvested, fermented in steel, and aged briefly in second- and third-passage French oak barriques, during which time it was subjected to bâtonnage (lees stirring), lending a touch of creaminess to the texture. In scale especially, it is strongly reminiscent of Chardonnay, with lots of mid-palate weight supported by a firm backbone of acidity and minerality. In the glass, it displays a bright yellow-gold core moving to a silvery rim, with aromas of white peach, salted lemon, yellow apple, fresh cream, wet stone, and a hint of smoke. It’s drinking beautifully now and should continue to impress over the next few years, and at this price, you can afford to do what I’ve been doing—enjoying bottle after bottle! Pull the cork around 15 minutes before service in Burgundy stems at 45-50 degrees, and treat yourself to some Portuguese-inspired seafood or a lemony roast chicken. It’s simply a knockout value, and should not be missed. Cheers!




Pedra Cancela, Dão Encruzado “Vinha da Fidalga” Dão, Portugal 2019 - SommSelect

  • CountryPortugal
  • RegionDão
  • Sub-RegionCarregal do Sal
  • SoilSand & Granite
  • BlendEncruzado
  • Alcohol13.5%
  • OakUsed French Barrels

  • CountryPortugal
  • RegionDão
  • Sub-RegionCarregal do Sal
  • SoilSand & Granite
  • BlendEncruzado
  • Alcohol13.5%
  • OakUsed French Barrels
  • Temp.Serve at 45-50° F
  • GlasswareBurgundy Stem
  • DrinkingNow-2025
  • Decanting15 Minutes
  • PairingSalt Cod, Chickpea & Egg Salad