Peter Eckert, a Swiss national, fell in love with Dão wines during the eighties when he managed the Portuguese subsidiary of Zurich Insurance Group. In 1991, he and his wife acquired Quinta das Marias, restoring the house and re-structuring the neglected vineyard. Having taught himself to make wine, Eckert made his first in 1998 and won a gold medal at the annual regional competition the following year. Whilst the estate’s reputation is founded on powerful modern red wines, his Encruzado whites caught our eye. Introduced in 2018, Crudus - a taut top tier Encruzado – was made by Luís Lopes, who joined Quinta das Marias that year. It is the first of a new series of special ‘Out of the Bottle’ releases. Lopes cut his teeth at Álvaro Castro, one of the Dão’s most acclaimed winemakers and, tasted from barrel February, we snapped it up an allocation of this two barrel cuvée. The unoaked entry level example is no slouch and just as saline. A hallmark of the estate’s whites.