Lagars de Darei
I have to declare a fondness for this producer because I had the pleasure of treading grapes in Darei’s lagar a few years back. The party that accompanied this activity is easily one of the greatest memories I have of wine in my career as a journalist.
Lagars de Darei is a project driven by Jose Cunha with help from his son Carlos. The project has been two fold, including the renovation of a grand old house into an agro-tourism hotel and renovation of its winery to work estate’s vineyards.
Jose revitalized an older vineyard sited along the village’s waterway, adding to this two organically farmed vineyards on terraces at higher elevations. Grapes have remained faithful to what’s worked best locally for centuries: reds, Alfrocheiro, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and Jaen and whites, Encruzado, Bical and Arinto.
After having invested years and considerable expense to get organic certification, Jose withdrew from the program because an inspector—obviously more interested in documents--refused to visit his vineyards. He tossed the inspector off the farm. Given how modest and mild mannered I know Jose to be, I admire and respect him for taking such a bold stand against bureaucracy’s blindness to common sense and an obvious devotion to good farming practices. Regardless of not having an official stamp of approval to prove it, Darei still continue to farm organically and care for their land as best they can.
In describing Darei’s wine styles, the first words that come to mind are: understated, elegant, pure, purposeful and perfumed. They are the essence of what small, family produced Dao wine is all about.
Girls stomping the grapes