Paço dos Cunhas is in the charming and aristocratic village of Santar, in the heart of the Dão Wine Region. Also known as the Portuguese Burgundy, the Dão was demarcated in 1908 and it is also considered the oldest non fortified wine region in the country.

Santar still preserves its ancestral roots, clearly visible in the granite streets and in the urban set of manor houses. It has buildings of high architectural and landscape quality, surrounded by large areas of farms and gardens. 

The Paço dos Cunhas was built in 1609, on the initiative of D. Pedro da Cunha. Of the 16th century building, an L-shaped construction remains, which houses the restaurant and the wine shop. It has always been linked to agricultural and wine production, which makes it one of the oldest agricultural and wine-producing properties in the region.

It is known as the pearl of wine tourism in the Dão and there is no shortage of reasons for this. The tourist visit is very complete and enriching. The guide at Paço dos Cunhas leads visitors on a journey through time and through the senses. 

They visit the Contador vineyards, located inside the Paço, and the neighbouring vineyards of Casa de Santar, another premium brand of the producer - Global Wines. After the visit to the historic cellars of Casa de Santar, a wine tasting takes place in an emblematic room of the Paço.

The visit may be complemented by a gastronomic experience in the estate restaurant. Henrique Ferreira, the chef of the Paço dos Cunhas, offers a signature cuisine, focusing on a traditional Portuguese menu and regional products. 

Henrique Ferreira's creations bring the Dão to the table, but also the small vegetable gardens, the selected producers and a huge desire to show the quality of what is endogenous. The best way to get to know all this is to choose one of the existing tasting menus, which pay tribute to the place and the richness of its history. 

I recently tasted the new launches of this producer, in an event marked by quality and differentiation. Just when you think that there will no longer be a wine dinner capable of surprising you, then comes the surprise. An overwhelming array of wines! 

The oenology of Osvaldo Amado and his team, together with the strategic vision defined for the brands, contributed to the excellence of this launch. 

Casa de Santar Rosé 2020

Produced exclusively from the Touriga Nacional grape variety, this rosé, the result of several trials and inspired by Provence, is of an absolute finesse.
An aromatic profile, but without excesses, with red fruit in highlight. Floral touches, discreetly perfumed, complete a very seductive nose. Dry and with a perfect acidity, this rosé was launched in winter, with the purpose of demystifying the idea that rosés are summer wines. A commendable initiative.

Casa de Santar Curtimenta White 2019

Straw yellow in colour, this Curtimenta will be anything but a déjà vu. Osvaldo Amado wanted to get away from turbid aspects and orange colours. This white was fermented in contact with skins and stems and aged for 12 months in barrels. Clear and translucent, it is somewhat restrained in the aroma, but without being austere. A nose without aromatic excesses, as I really prefer. In the mouth it is dry, tense and with a perfect acidity. Citric notes, dry fruits, and wet stone, describe its taste. Freshness and minerality are present throughout the tasting. A very serious and full-bodied white wine, which gives good guarantees of evolving very well. 

Casa de Santar Oito Parcelas Red 2012

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the evening, as we all of us expected the quality of the Vinha do Contador and nobody imagined that a wine like this would appear. It is a full blend from 8 different plots and 6 different grape varieties. From a range of 100 barrels, only 30 were selected for the final blend. Extremely complex, with black fruit notes in good plan, complemented with spices and tertiary aromas. A multi-layered wine, with enormous class, proving the great elasticity of the Dão in the production of longevous wines of superior category.

Vinha do Contador Grande Jury Noble White 2015

It integrates the very short list of Dão Noble wines. It is a colossal wine. One of the best whites I have ever tasted. A Portuguese wine that is second to none of the world's great whites. That said, isn't there much more to write about this wine. White-fleshed fruit notes predominate, with spicy pepper touches. Its freshness and acidity are so vibrant that, even with a very high temperature in the glass (around 18º), the wine remains extremely lively. With an involving unctuosity, it is very long and complex. A wine that provides an unforgettable tasting and invites us to introspection. 

Vinha do Contador Grand Jury Red 2013

A red wine that is a hymn to elegance and harmony. Because it is so harmonious, it was not the choice of some of the tasters present, fans of less consensual characteristics. I think that the continuous effort towards perfection should always be rewarded. This red wine is the maximum expression of the refinement of the great wines of the region. Balance, complexity, and longevity are three characteristics that this wine guarantees. The purity of the fruit, the minerality of the granite soils, the slight smokiness coming from the long and gentle ageing, everything is very careful in this wine. Voluminous, precise, and deep, this Vinha do Contador Tinto 2013 is undoubtedly an icon of the Dão!

The wines from the Santar terroir, Vinha do Contador and Casa de Santar, can be purchased in the Paço wine shop, as well as other brands from the producer. 

WINEnROUTE invites you to visit the wonderful Dão region, and particularly the Paço dos Cunhas de Santar, offering you exclusive programs that combine culture, gastronomy and premium wines, with a stay in places of great prestige and quality.

Olga Cardoso

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