Quinta da Fata: Sometimes Good Things Come in Small Packages

A nice cozy place to taste some wine: Photo Robert K. Stephen

The granite lagares where wine is crushed by foot: Photo Robert K. Stephen

Romeo the friendly winery dog: Photo Robert K. Stephen

Owners Eurico and Cremilde Amaral;Photo Robert K. Stephen

Located near Nelas on the Dão Wine Route #2 in Portugal is the small winery Quinta Fata. It has a mere 6.5 hectares and produces 32,000 cases of wine a year. It is family run winery owned by the affable Eurico Ponces Amaral.
No fancy retail shop or tasting room here. Instead we sit by a crackling fire in the living room of their house. They do have a small bed and breakfast operation.
The Quinta has been in business since 1890. It is on granitic soils on a gentle slope facing south. The vineyards sit at 400 metres. It was totally replanted in 1999 yet the ancient granite presses are still in place.
Cremilde, Eurico’s wife, notes the days can be very hot in the summer but cold in the evening keeping the grapes acidity and preventing the wines from getting flabby.
The red wines are crushed in granite lagares by foot! The grapes are harvested by machines.
A small amount of the wine is exported to Brazil and Switzerland.
The Quinta does retain a consulting winemaker who has several other clients in the Dão.
Encruzado when grown in granitic soils often has a tiny amount of gruffness to it on back palate making it a very unique white wine. I have had several of these Encruzados and the discovery of this grape has been one of the highlights of my trip. The Quinta da Fata 100% 2017 Encruzado is an incredible delight. It is golden colored and has that magical traction down the throat. In addition to the taste of peach there are tropical notes, particularly mango. On the nose again tropical notes including a healthy surge of pineapple and just a tad of charcoal. This excellent wine has a medium finish and sells for 8.5 €.
The 2016 Quinta Fata red is a blend of the usual Dao suspects namely Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Jaen and Alfrocheiro. It is black plum in colour and has a delightful nose of tobacco, black cherry and raspberry. The taste is a bit diffuse but there is definitely some black cherry and blackberry. It has a medium finish. It sells for 5.9 €.
The 2014 Red Reserve is a blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Alfrocheiro and Jaen. It has a blackberry colour and a nose of charcoal, plum, blackberry and strawberry jam. The taste is that of blueberry pie and cherry. It has a medium finish. This intriguing wine sells for 8.5 €.
The 2015 Touriga Nacional is black plum in colour and has a nose of coffee, wet sand, blueberry pie and chocolate. It has a juicy and slightly tart medium length finish interlaced with raspberry jam and sour cherry. Moderate tannins. It retails for 16€.
The last wine is a 2010 Conde de Vilar which is 100% Touriga Nacional. This is a smooth and seductive wine with a nose of vanilla, mocha and red cherry with a light purple colour. As Douro reds have an ability to smooth out with age so too must Dão wines. On the palate a real smoothie with notes of sweet red cherries, licorice and chocolate. A superb ending to the tasting and at 24 € worth the price.

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About the Author

Robert Stephen (CSW)
Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he loves The Square. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write." Email Robert Stephen

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