Awarded 96 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their June 2018 edition review of Portuguese whites (see blue link below)
Quinta Dos Carvalhais Dao Branco Especial NV - June 2018 Decanter review
The 105-hectare Quinta dos Carvalhais is a beautiful property in Mangualde commune in the Dão. Purchased and invested in by the Guedes family, the estate combines the most up-to-date techniques with extensive experience of traditional winemaking practices, creating wines with elegance and personality. In addition to investing in their own vineyards, Quinta dos Carvalhais has also been instrumental in defending the interests and living conditions of many local small winegrowers who sell their grapes.
This property, which today has 50 hectares under vine, was purchased by the Guedes family in 1988. The vineyards were planted on poor granite soils with indigenous Dão varieties (Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Alfrocheiro, Jaen and Tinta Pinheira for reds and Encruzado, Assario, Verdelho, Bical and Cerceal for whites), and the modern winery was built soon afterwards. Today, winemaker Beatriz Cabral de Almeida makes an increasingly impressive range of wines from estate vineyards, which are situated at an altitude of 465-500 metres above sea level.
Wines from 2004, 2005 and 2006 make up the blend of Quinta dos Carvalhais Branco Especial. The 2004 and 2005 vintages were excellent and produced ripe grapes with excellent phenolic development. The 2006 vintage had a cold and dry winter. Spring was rainy but May saw good conditions for flowering. Summer alternated between high temperatures and rainy periods, maintaining a fine water and temperature balance which favoured an even ripening. There was occasional rain during the vintage, but this did not affect the quality of the wines.
31% Encruzado, 15% Semillon, 15% Verdelho, 39% other white varieties.
The grapes were loaded directly into the pneumatic press upon arrival at the winery. The must underwent static decantation at low temperatures for a 24-hour period to reach the required level of clarity. Fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks for about 20 days at temperatures no higher than 16ºC. The wine was made using some of the region's traditional winemaking techniques, including the maturation of white wines for long periods of time in large, old oak casks. This is a blend of grapes from 2004, 2005 and 2006, with an average of eight years ageing in 225-litre oak barrels. During the maturation, intervention was avoided as far as possible. The wines from the different barrels were tasted one by one, and those that showed the best potential for development were selected for the final blend.
Bright golden in colour, the Branco Especial's bouquet has a prevalence of truffles, honey and dried fruits, as well as oak hints and warm spicy notes. It is a dense and structured wine with broad and fragrant aromatics. Its lively acidity is very well-balanced by the full, rich body of the wine. An elegant, complex and very sophisticated white wine.