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Dão - Portugal - Taboadella - Gunter - Simona
Date of publication 1 November 2023


Reading time 8 minutes

The impression you have is that each vintage is guided by the hand of man, rather than vice versa.

Pedro Leite, Taboadella's Export Sales Manager, is passionately involved in the project and incredibly proud to be able to in share the estate's achievements in such a short time.


There are emotions that are instantly transformed into words, almost out of the blue, crystal-clear and precise. There are journeys that become stories even before you have returned home. There are others, instead, that drift at length in the mind and soul before they can be grasped, as if they require more space and time to reveal their deeper meaning and become conscious thoughts, universal and shareable images.

My visit to Taboadella had long remained a blank page. It took a horse, the rugged landscape of Andalusia and an unwavering faith in the inspirational muse Calliope for my memory to take shape and voice.

And here I am, sitting outside my tent with my laptop, my faithful travelling companion, with the neighing of horses in the background. Immersed in southern Spain writing about Portugal: a journey within a journey. All that's missing is a glass of Grande Villae Tinto, but I am happy to settle for its lingering memory.

Andalusia - Tent - Gunter
Andalusia - Tent - Gunter

Taboadella's Grande Villae Tinto is a stunning red. Try it together with the winery's other incredible wines.

Whenever I set to musing on Portugal, I am vividly reminded of what an incredible place it is to enjoy truly immersive experiences. Every face you encounter breaks into a welcoming smile, the food is an invitation to indulge in all manner of delights and even a lone traveller can easily find himself clinking bottles of Touriga Nacional with a new friend of an evening.

This time we head south-east from Porto to Portugal's first non-liqueur wine area: the Dão region, a cradle of fine wines with a classic profile and enormous longevity.
The Dão is currently one of the most emblematic and promising regions in the whole of Portugal, where the past of ancient Portuguese noble families intersects with the dreams of hospitable and hard-working people.

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We reach Silvã de Cima, in the sub-region of Castendo, and standing before us is our final destination: the entrance gates to Taboadella

Coincidentally, it was a meeting in Piedmont with Luisa Amorim, the fourth generation of the family to deal with wine and owner of the estate, who after being greatly impressed by the story of our experience at Herdade Aldeia de Cima told us: "You must go to Taboadella. You will find the very same philosophy, but with a totally different soul and heritage."

Pedro Leite, the Export Sales Manager, is waiting to welcome us in front of the main building and guide us through this idyllic little corner of the world.
A quiet, pragmatic person, he passionately involved in the project and incredibly proud to share in the estate's achievements in such a short time. In him I see much of Nelson Coelho, the Export Sales Manager of Herdade Aldeia de Cima.

Taboadella - Dão - Pedro Leite - Gunter - Simona
Taboadella - Dão - Pedro Leite
Taboadella - Dão - Pedro Leite - Gunter - Simona
Taboadella - Dão -  Gunter - Simona
Taboadella - Dão -  Vineyard
Taboadella - Dão - Visit
Taboadella - Dão - Gunter - Simona

Taboadella is nestled among a peerless 42 hectare expanse of vineyards, lying between Vale do Pereiro and Vale do Sequeiro. It is characterised by a plateau, running from 400 to 530 metres above sea level, and gentle slopes with prime southern and western exposure to the sun.

Although records of Taboadella date back to 1255, historical research has revealed that it was occupied much earlier and its original use dates back to the 1st century, when it was home to a Roman Villae.
This is confirmed by the presence of a winepress in the monolithic rock mass adjacent to the vineyard and not far from the houses: one of the oldest historical vestiges of wine-making technology in the Dão region, demonstrating the importance of wine in the payment of military salaries and a strategic commodity in Roman times.

As we stroll through the rows of vines to reach the ultra-modern wine cellar visible in the distance, we realise that this is a place where history goes hand in hand with modernity, an eternal coexistence whose common denominator is nurturing the land.

"The vineyards in our 42 hectares receive no irrigation, thereby enabling us to maintain traditional quality and typicality in an 'integrated' system throughout all 18 of our plots. This means that we use no water and no chemicals. Today the average age of the vines is 30 years, but some are up to 100 years old,” Pedro Leite tells us.

We walk for several long minutes and, as the wind tempers the heat of the sun, I can't help but recall the honesty of Luisa Amorim's words to me: 'You will find the same philosophy that you experienced in Herdade Aldeia de Cima.”

The air is redolent with the sense of dedication to achieving a common vision and respect for autochthonous vineyards. Taboadella is a living organism that resonates with the entirety of the Portuguese soul. 

A Portugal that few are lucky enough to experience. 

Taboadella - Dão - Visit - Winery
Taboadella - Dão - Visit - Winery

The new winery stands before us in all its majesty, built with sustainable natural materials such as wood and cork, a symbol of its powerful bond with nature.
Designed by architect Carlos Castanheira, the building is perfectly framed by the forest plateau, close to the Ribeira das Fontainhas.

"Gravity flow vinification is tailor-made in state-of-the-art concrete vats and conical stainless steel vats, corresponding exactly to the classic batches of Taboadella's terroir, where you have the impression that each harvest is guided by the hand of man, rather than vice versa."

Entering the cellar is like stepping into a totally new, almost immaculate dimension. The rigour of cleanliness and precision here is quite astonishing. You have the distinct impression that, even by simply touching the handrail or whispering a few words, you could disturb or interrupt the perceptible sense of equilibrium. 

Before us, like the columns of an ancient temple, stand eleven 10,000-litre Nico Velo concrete vats that lend mineral notes and finer, deeper structures to the wines.  A little further on, lie ten 15,000-litre stainless steel conical vats for red wines and eight 8,000-litre stainless steel vats for white wines.

Taboadella - Dão - Visit - Winery
Taboadella - Dão - Visit - Winery
Taboadella - Dão - Barrels - Winery
Taboadella - Dão - Pedro Leite - Gunter - Simona
Taboadella - Dão - Visit - Winery
Taboadella - Dão - Visit - Winery - Simona
Taboadella - Dão - Visit - Winery - Barrels
Taboadella - Dão - Pedro Leite - Gunter - Simona
Taboadella - Dão - Visit - Winery - barrels

At precisely the most iconic moment of our visit, we are joined by Vigneron Rodrigo Costa, one of the minds behind the magic that takes place at Taboadella. Excitedly, he leads us up the stairs to the upper floor, to what is called the Barrel Top Walk: a wooden walkway built above the barrel room.
One feels like a child who is told to 'look but not touch'. As we stand suspended above the barrels, we cast our gaze over the entire premises and revel in the privilege of contemplating the silence of the cellar, where the wines are aged in hand-crafted French oak barrels, made from 180 to 200 year-old oaks, designed to prolong the ageing process and lend them greater complexity and refinement.

As we step out onto the large balcony outside, we immediately catch sight of the main building of Taboadella from which we had set out and, in an instant, the view opens up over the magnificent vineyard. This is definitely the perfect place for our tasting.

Taboadella - Dão - Pedro Leite - Gunter - Simona

Whilst it might seem strange and perhaps even ambitious to put it in such terms, we had an immediate perception of the Amorin family’s style and good standing in these wines.
Wines made following a precise vision and with a clear shared objective of quality.
Wines whose soul you can recognise blindfolded.
Wines that are unlike any other wine.

In Taboadella, one can savour the whole identity of the Dão region: its character, aromas, colours, longevity and fluidity. 

Of the nine labels tasted, without doubt I can say that the undisputed queen is Grande Villae Tinto. Truly outstanding, it is no wonder it received a score of 94+ points from Robert Parker.
A historic wine, with a strong and generous personality, revealing the wealth of the Taboadella estate. It is also a wine of the future, surprising for its energy, amplified by its distinct minerality, where with every sip you can sense the evocative call of the terroir, the pure expression of granite, the persistence and subtle elegance of the vines.

This red is produced retaining a rare classic structure: a reference to Taboadella's Roman soul, a tribute to its origins.

Taboadella's Monovarietal Reserves are the result of a selection of plots that have always been extremely well-balanced, resulting in unique and highly personalised wines, some of which are quite proud, even haughty, but all unequivocally revealing their origin.
Encruzado Reserva and Touriga National really astounded us.

The former is a delicate grape variety, exclusive to this region. It produces wines that are surprising for the elegance and complexity of their vegetal and floral aromas, revealing remarkable freshness in the mouth, with a long and persistent finish. The Taboadella Encruzado Reserva is a decisive and exuberant white, with a silky texture, linear structure and remarkable depth. It is a wine of the present and the future.

Taboadella - Dão - Taboadella Encruzado Reserva
Taboadella - Dão - Taboadella Encruzado Reserva - Tasting

Touriga Nacional, on the other hand, is the international icon of Portuguese grape varieties. Originating in this region, it finds its very highest expression here.
Touriga Nacional Reserva is an excellent example of natural acidity in this exceptional terroir. It offers up violets whose aroma lingers in our memory, complementing high altitude notes, black spice and the aroma of wet granite, providing surprising complexity.

Taboadella - Dão - Touriga Nacional Reserva - Gunter - Tasting
Taboadella - Dão - Touriga Nacional Reserva - Gunter
Taboadella - Dão - Touriga Nacional Reserva - Gunter - Tasting
Taboadella - Dão - Touriga Nacional Reserva - Gunter - Simona
Taboadella - Dão - Touriga Nacional Reserva - Tasting
Taboadella - Dão - Touriga Nacional Reserva - Tasting

With each sip, it has astounded us. It will remain at length in our hearts and minds, continuing to unfold and reveal itself, surprising us in our memories. Translating our emotions will be no easy task.

As we walk back towards the car, our tastebuds still ringing with the flavours we have just tasted, I can't stop complimenting Pedro on the wonderful job they are doing at Taboadella.

Smiling, he hugs me, telling me that he will see me again in Italy soon and once again making me feel that I am in the presence of a friend.

Taboadella - Dão - Gunter - Simona

Witnessing first-hand the commitment and passion in people like Pedro, in Taboadella, and Nelson, in Herdade Aldeia de Cima, I learnt an important lesson: true well-being is simply feeling good about everything you allow yourself to be a part of. 

In Portugal I always find something magical, in the places and especially in the people: they are oxygen for my soul. From them I have learnt that no matter where you find yourself listening to the mournful notes of fado music, you will never dance alone.

Taboadella - Dão - Vigne

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