Paco dos Cunhas de Santar is a 17th century manor house in Santar village in the Dão wine region of Portugal. It has an interesting history, it was originally owned by a family named Cunhas who produced olive oil, fruit, and wine. They were connected to the Spanish monarchy. When Portugal regained its independence, the local population destroyed the property in retaliation and it was left empty.
Global Wines, who owns multiple properties and brands in wine regions throughout Portugal, purchased the estate in 2002. Restoring the property has been a long process with the vineyards being the top priority, all of the surrounding 20 hectares of vines have been organically grown since 2007, they launched the first organic wine from the estate in 2012. The original manor house has been restored and now includes a wine shop, event space, and restaurant. It is tourist friendly offering both winery and vineyard tours, along with wine tastings. The tastings are outside on the terrace when the weather permits providing guests with vineyard views along with a classic garden to enjoy. There is another house on the property that will eventually be renovated into a high end guest house.
Affordably priced for under $10 in the U.S., these two wines offer good value for the cost.
Cabriz Colheita Selecionada Branco 2017 - Crisp, light, and easy drinking this white blend containing Encruzado, Bical, Malvasia Fina, and Cerceal Branco was aromatic with tropical fruit aromas and flavors with a citrus pith finish.
Cabriz Colheita Selecionada Tinto 2016 - This red blend contains 40% Alfrocheiro, 40% Tinta Roriz, and 20% Touriga Nacional was aged for 6 months in neutral oak barrels giving the wine a smooth, round feel with aromas and flavors of mulberry jam and a light toasted note.
These two wines are made from 100% Touriga Nacional and did not see oak, they are priced between $15-20 in the U.S.
Cabriz Touriga Nacional Branco 2017 - A very unique wine, this is the only white wine from Touriga Nacional that we tasted while in the Dão. The grapes were harvested early to preserve the acidity. The wine had tart red berry aromas and flavors with a fresh, orange citrus finish.
Cabriz Touriga Nacional Tinto 2014 - Young and fresh tasting with blackberry aromas and flavors with a hint of bergamot in the soft, lingering finish.
The Reserva wines are priced just under $20 in the U.S.
Cabris Reserva Branco 2017 - This white is 100% Encruzado, it was partially fermented in stainless steel and partially in neutral French oak with three months of batonnage. It is dry, with a medium body, floral citrus blossom aromas and citrus flavors with a hint of nuttiness on the fresh, slightly creamy finish.
Cabris Reserva Tinto 2014 - This red blend contains 40% Tinta Roriz, 40% Touriga Nacional, and 20% Alfrocheiro, it was aged for 6 months in French oak barrels, half new and half neutral. This wine had a bigger structure and more complex robust flavors than the similar red blend in the Colheita collection, it was fruit forward with black plum and berries with notes of violet, vanilla, and baking spices with a lingering finish.
These two limited edition wines are made from grapes sourced from Paco dos Cunhas de Santar estate's premium seven hectare Contador's Vineyard. This unique area is recognized for its special sun exposure which creates an exceptional terroir for long-lived wines. These select bottles are only made in the best vintages and each are numbered.
Paco dos Cunhas Vinha do Contador Dão Branco 2014 - This dry, full-bodied white blend is Encruzado-based with some Malvasia Fina and Cerceal and is partially fermented and aged in new French oak for one year. It has tropical aromas of pineapple, mango, and coconut with a creamy feel and a persistent nutmeg-laced finish. Priced at 30 euros.
Paco dos Cunhas Vinha do Contador Dão Tinto "Grande Júri" 2011 - A red blend composed primarily of Touriga Nacional with Argonez, and Alfrocheiro aged in new French oak barrels for 18 months. Our group sampled bottle #1594. This full-bodied, dry red has rich, complex aromas and flavors of mixed berries, bergamot, spice, and a touch of dark chocolate and toast in the lengthy finish.
Priced at 60 euros in the wine shop.
We also tasted the Cabriz Brut Sparkling white blend and the Cabriz Impar Licaroso fortified wine
at lunch, unfortunately, no notes were taken.
Paco dos Cunhas de Santar is on route 1 of 5 on the Dão Wine Route, it is a recommended stop when visiting the region, reservations are required for the restaurant.