Beat the Dao Jones Average

Perhaps that title is a bit too vague; so much for catchy titles! The purpose of this post is to highlight the wines of the Dao Valley, in Portugal. This post is the first of two parts, a story about a special wine in Brasil, in 1982. We will produce the second part after a coming visit to the Dao Valley, in Portugal.

Twenty five years ago this month I was in Brasil. I was teaching a Project Management class, the first of a series over the next 8 years. I had a wonderful time, and I love Brasil and its people. But I had nearly forgotten about one of my most interesting early wine experiences–until it was time to plan a trip to the source of the story. Here ’tis.

The date was 1982. I was at dinner at the Brasilton hotel in downtown Sao Paulo. I looked over the wine list, looking for anything I could appreciate. I saw a lot of very average wines on the list, and nothing that inspired me. I asked the Sommelier, who was hovering over me expectantly, “don’t you have anything that is a little more special?” He puzzled a bit, then smiled, and scurried off. 

He soon returned, cradling a dusty, musty bottle. I inspected the tattered label; it was an 18 year old (in 1982) bottle of a Portuguese Dao Valley red. I watched as he carefully removed the cork, and placed it on the table. I inspected the cork; it had red marks 3/4 of the way up, but appeared sound and intact. He poured me a taste.

The wine was definitely well-aged, but not beyond its prime. It was great!  I encouraged the Sommelier to have a taste, and also poured a glass for a couple nearby; then I enjoyed the rest of that bottle, while overlooking the lights of Sao Paulo from the top of the Brasilton. Nothing had been said about the price.

When the check arrived, I checked the price of the wine. It was the equivalent of $8. That is one of the top bargains in wine I’ve ever seen! Mark this as yet another memorable wine experience.

The second part of this post will appear when we return from Northern Portugal later this month; we plan to visit Porto, then the upper Duoro Valley, then Liseu and the Dao Valley, source of that stellar wine. Watch for part 2!