UDACA Searching for the Big Commercial Marketplaces

The various co-operatives providing grapes to UDACA: Photo Robert K. Stephen

UDACA’s Carlos Silva presenting to wine writers: Robert K. Stephen Photo

Photo: Robert K. Stephen

UDACA is the Union of Co-operative Wineries of the Dão in Portugal. It initially represented 5 co-operatives in the Dao and buys grapes from them to make wine. It was quite clear on our visit that UDACA, which was founded in 1952, is searching for large export markets with a focus on exports with 80% of its wines being sold out of Portugal. It leads me to the conclusion that why can’t Canada be export focused?
Their style is to make an “international” style of wine meaning rounder and easy to please. Important markets for them are Russia, China and Brazil. A limited amount of their wines is available in the LCBO and SAQ. They are also available in 4 U.S. states.
Their entry level style of wines is expected to net them 2.2 million Euros in sales this year.
As the grapes purchased from the different co-operatives are from different terroirs they have different profiles.
The winery is located in the outskirts of Viseu in an industrial park and without being uppity about it one receives an impression this is a serious winemaking factory with no pretentions about making wine for connoisseurs. It’s showroom and retail store illustrate just how commercially and market oriented they are.
Make no mistake just because their wines are on the low end of the price scale the wine is of good quality and bound to please everyone except perhaps for the “wine elite” that focus on cost as equating with quality.
The Dom Divino 2017 White are from grapes grown in granite, clay and limestone soils. It is a blend of Cerceal-Branco, Malvasia Fina and Bical. On the nose pineapple, pear and honey with tastes of pineapple, apple, lime and lemon with a platinum colour. It would suit light foods and seafood. There is no oak so the wine is “naked” as we say. It has won three silver medals in various Portuguese wine competitions. It retails for an obscenely low 2.75€.
The Adro da Sé Encruzado 2017 was grown from grapes from granite clay and limestone. It is a single varietal wine made from Encruzado. It was aged 12 months in Allier Fino barrels giving it more power than the Dom Divino above. On the nose forceful tropical notes particularly of mango and a good dollop of vanilla. It has a light gold colour and tastes of pear, apple and tropical fruits creating a delicious wine that has recently won 4 medals in international and Portuguese wine contests. It sells for 6 €.
I love the label with its reversed lettering being “Irreverente” which is a 2017 Rosé. I have not sampled many Dão Rosés but everyone of them is full of power and not ashamed of it. The label is innovative and an immediate attraction to the anti-wine snob fraternity. It is a fresh and fruity wine being a blend of Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional, Jaen and Alfrochiero. A frisky nose of strawberry, pomegranate and watermelon and on the palate full of red berries with a touch of cinnamon. It is of a delicate pink colour. Again at a rock bottom price of 3 € making it a compelling buy. It may be cheap but terribly easy drinking. Again the grapes in the blend were grown in granite, clay and limestone soils.
Clocking in at a 2.8€ price is the Dom Divino 2015 which is a blend of Touriga Nacional, Alfrocheiro, Tinta Roriz and Jaen. It has been aged in oak and on the nose is extremely approachable and very warm with black fruit and vanilla. It has a red plum colour and on the palate a bit of sweetness but has good acidity and is slightly spicy. Quality wine at bargain basement prices.
The Adro da Sé Reserva 2015 is a blend of Touriga Nacional, Alfrochiero, Tinta Roriz and Jaen. The usual suspects in a red blend of the Dão! This is a very serious wine and one of complexity and high quality. Tightly structured fruit on the nose with blackberry, black cherry and a hint of spice. A slight degree of sweetness on the taste with loads of black cherry and heavy tannins with a wisp of licorice.
The next wine I had resulted in a bit of a verbal tussle with an American foodie on the trip who disliked the name “Invulgar” and arrogantly pronounced that this was an offensive wine and would never sell in the U.S.A. My thought that its raised metallic label and name would attract the younger crowd big time.
An international medal winner including a Gold at Wine and Spirits in Asia in 2014. A blend of Touriga Nacional and Alfrochiero which is a blend from 4 co-operatives and a big seller in Brazil which citizens may have a more humorous view of the name than a purile American.
A dandy of a wine with a nose full of spice, blackberry, strawberry jam and licorice and on the palate black fruit, spice, cedar and raspberry with some heavy tannins. Perhaps the most serious wine of the tasting with some ageing capacity. It sells in the 7-8 € range.
Coming to near the end of our tasting a 2014 Touriga Nacional which was aged 12 months in Allier Fino oak barrels. Highly decorated by wine awards it has a dark plum and violet colour with a nose of black cherry, vanilla, red plum and spice with pine and balsamic notes. It is rich and complex and I would say it can age for at least 10 years.
We conclude with a Tesouro da Sé- Private Selection again aged in Allier Fino barrels for 12 months and a blend of Touriga Nacional (80%) and Alfrochiero (20%). It has a black cherry colour and on the nose blackberry, black cherry and vanilla and on the palate black cherry, vanilla, cloves and cassis. A magnificent wine capable of ageing for at least a decade.
I must say initially I thought this a wine factory pumping out some good quality juice appealing to all. And I appreciate them communicating that message to us but on a few of their higher priced wines there is a brilliance there that requires a master blender to balance grapes from so many different co-operatives and terroirs. And my goodness they can produce for the masses and for the connoisseurs.
UDACA right on! I would drive up and load my car for Christmas festivities if I lived in Porto or Viseu. As an LCBO search indicates no UDACA wines available in Toronto I’ll have to fly to Portugal and stock up!

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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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