Rodeada por montanhas em todas as direcções, assente em solos graníticos muito pobres, a região do Dão estende as suas vinhas dispersas entre pinhais a diferentes altitudes, desde os 1.000 metros da Serra da Estrela até aos 200 metros das zonas mais baixas.
As vinhas são esparsas e descontínuas, divididas em múltiplas parcelas, com propriedades com áreas médias quase insignificantes.
As montanhas determinam e condicionam o clima da região, abrigando as vinhas da influência directa do clima continental e da influência marítima. Os solos pobres são maioritariamente graníticos.
Nas castas brancas salientam-se, para além do Encruzado, as variedades Bical, Cercial, Malvasia Fina, Rabo de Ovelha e Verdelho. Nas castas tintas, para além da Touriga Nacional, salientam-se o Alfrocheiro, Jaen e Tinta Roriz, para além das pouco valorizadas Baga, Bastardo e Tinta Pinheira.
Lafões é uma pequena região de transição, encravada entre as denominações do Dão e Vinho Verde, cortada pelo rio Vouga, com solos maioritariamente graníticos.
Nas castas brancas prosperam o Arinto, Cerceal, Dona Branca, Esgana Cão e Rabo de Ovelha, sendo os tintos dominados pelas castas Amaral e Jaen. Por regra, os vinhos de Lafões mostram um pendor acídulo, apresentando um estilo semelhante ao da denominação vizinha do Vinho Verde.Fonte: Wines of Portugal
The Dão DOC is at least thoroughly Portuguese in terms of permitted grape varieties. The name was until the 1990s associated with aggressively tannic, dull reds, the result of a ridiculous statute that sent all its grapes to heavy-handed co-operatives. happily the European Union disallowed this monopoly and the result is far juicier, friendlier wines, including some of Portugal's finest.Red Dão changed more, and for the better, than any other Portuguese wine in the 1990s.
Named after the river that runs through it, Dão is effectively a granite plateau, where bare rocks show through the predominantly sandy soil - although there is some schist in the flatter south and west, which is less obvious wine country. Vineyards are only a subplot in the landscape, cropping up here and there is clearings in the sweet-scented pine forests, ideally at altitudes of 400-500m but some can be found as high as 800m. Its capital, Viseu, is one of Portugal's prettiest towns. The Serra do Caramulo shields the region from the Atlantic and the Serra da Estrela mountains protect it in the southeast. This means that in winter Dão is cold and wet; in summer warm and dry.
As is usual in Portugal, a dizzying range of grapes is grown in the Dão region to produce increasingly fruity reds - though still with a certain granitic substance - and potentially firm, fragrant whites suitable for ageing. This affinity for the cellar, in whites as well as reds, was already obvious from traditional Dãos, bottled by merchants who would buy, blend, and age wines from the co-ops before selling them as their own Reservas or Garrafeiras.
The finest individual estates such as Quinta dos Roques/Quinta das Maias and Quinta da Pellada/Quinta de Saes have been producing single varietals as well as blends as they experiment with individual grapes. Touriga Nacional has shown great promise for long ageing, Jaen (Galicia's Mencía) for fruity early drinking, and Tinto Cão for perfume. The deep-coloured Alfrocheiro is also promising with judicious blends becoming increasingly common. Full-bodied Encruzado has already proved itself one of Portugal's finest white grapes. Sogrape, pioneer of varietal wines in the region, has invested heavily in its Quinta dos Carvalhais range. Fruit has been rediscovered in Dão.