An ancient tradition of fish and smoke
Smoked shad in port wine barrels is a practice that comes from our great-great-grandparents and that, in addition to a perfect barrel, requires quality fish.
The shad is a fish that grows mainly in estuaries or in places with tidal influence; migrates to the sea during the first year of life, where it feeds and grows; later, for our pleasure, it returns to the rivers to spawn.
A few years ago, we discovered one of the shad barrels in our warehouses and thought: “Why not bring the tradition back?”
An ancient tradition that arises from the need for conservation of fish by coopers and boatmen, at a time when they used Rabelo boats to travel along the Douro River, sometimes on very hot days.
However, unfortunately, the population of shad has been decreasing as well as the number of coopers and, with that, the tradition has been lost.
This discovery of the shad barrel came at the right time when Poças is looking to renew itself while at the same time maintaining a contemporary vision of a past that makes us proud. So, we embraced this complex challenge, which is to smoke shad in port wine barrels. Fortunately, this was the perfect barrel. Shad barrels must comply with certain criteria: dimensions (225 liters half barrel); bottomless, so that, when supported on four feet or wooden wedges, it can be placed a short distance from the ground and thus allow air to pass through; an open top with a wire grill where the fish is hung for smoking; an opening in the middle, to observe the interior and check the progress of smoking when necessary.
Having the perfect barrel in our possession, we move on to the smoking process. We use sawdust, which can be displayed in 2 forms, in chips or in powder obtained from the inside of port wine barrels, to give the fish an aromatic character.
In addition to the sawdust, there is another important aspect when it comes to the taste of shad: salting. Here, everyone is the master of their own recipe, but it consists of a mixture of ingredients ranging from coarse salt to brown sugar, lemon zest and fennel, applied over the already filleted fish and left for 48 hours. At the end of these 48 hours, it must be smoked for about 12 hours.
Getting the ideal recipe was an exhaustive research process on the part of our winemaker André Barbosa, who admits that he is still trying to accurate it year after year.
As for the perfect pairing, we recommend the Branco da Ribeira 2021 which, in addition to the essential acidity to withstand the fatty profile of the fish, also accompanies the charismatic and exclusive character present in the Shad.