Friday retro-post: going up in the world – Alvarinho
Earlier this month, I was asked for Alvarinho suggestions for a venerable private members club. How nice to see Alvarinho achieving wider recognition. In Wednesday’s post I wrote up the latest Alvarinho releases from Quinta de Paços. In today’s retro-post you’ll find my notes on earlier releases from Paços together with examples from producers who are lesser known on these shores, but whose Alvarinhos are most certainly worth getting to know. Not least because of the thrilling diversity of style which you can find in Monção e Melgaço – Portugal’s Alvarinho hot spot.
This post was originally published in November 2015.
This week I’m in Oporto focused on Douro 2013 reds and 2014 whites. It was a good year for whites, provided they were picked before the rain. During my mixed regional bag tasting for Hugh Johnson Pocket Wine in Lisboa the week before last, the Vinho Verde and Dão fielded some gorgeous 2014 whites. Here are my pick of the Vinho Verdes – most of the Alvarinhos. Luis Seabra’s Cru Granito and Quinta do Regueiro’s Primitivo – both 2014 – had that exciting extra dimension and layer which I associate with the very best examples of Alvarinho from the Monção e Melgaço sub-region.
Quinta de Paços Casa do Capitão Mor Alvarinho 2014 (Monção e Melgaço, Vinho Verde DOC)
Fruit is sourced from the pebbly soils of Quinta da Boavista in Monção. Half of the grapes were pressed immediately while the balance underwent five hours’ skin contact. It makes for an agreeable tension – a green, lively edge – to this wine’s creamy ripe apricot mid-palate languor and honeysuckle lift. Mineral acidity brings focus to the finish. Very good. 12.5%
Quinta de Paços Casa do Capitão Mor Reserva 2013 (Monção e Melgaço, Vinho Verde DOC)
The Reserva has much more pronounced minerality to nose and palate. A firmer, more concentrated palate reveals ripe pineapple, pina colada notes and a hint of fennel. Characterful.13%
Reguengo de Melgaço 2014 (Monção e Melgaço, Vinho Verde DOC)
Pale yellow with lingering honeysuckle and apricot to nose and palate. Lipsmacking greengage bite, mineral undertones and a touch of herbality lend interest and balance. Very good. 12.5%
Quinta de Melgaço QM Alvarinho 2014 (Monção e Melgaço, Vinho Verde DOC)
Lovely floral/herbal lift to the nose with pineapple/pina colada, juicy lychee and pops of fennel in the mouth – exotic. Long, with good acid drive. Very good. 12.5%
Quinta de Melgaço Vinhas Velhas 2013 (Monção e Melgaço, Vinho Verde DOC)
A rich, powerful, honeyed Alvarinho with ripe apricot to its generous mid-palate. Though I had a question mark about its length on day one, by day three it was holding very well – firmer, stony and deep. Very good. 13%
Dona Paterna Alavrinho 2014 (Monção e Melgaço, Vinho Verde DOC)
Great line, length and minerality to this mouthwatering, crisp and juicy, citrus-fuelled Alvarinho. A touch of phenolics and salty piquancy lend character to the long finish. Great drive. 13%
Luis Seabra Granito Cru Alvarinho 2014 (Monção e Melgaço, Vinho Verde DOC)
My pick of the bunch, with the Regueiro Primitivo close behind. This is a very complex Alvarinho with expressive notes of flowers, mineral and honey to its coiled, most judiciously mouth puckering yellow plum fruit. Long, very persistent and fresh with the structure to age well; an attractive pick of texture too. Deeply impressive, it still looked mighty fine with arrow-straight line on day three. A step up on last year’s smart debut (reviewed here), the 2014 seems less worked texturally and, in consequence, more energetic and truer to variety and terroir. Like the 2013, it was fermented and aged (for 10 month) in oval 1000l and 2000l used eastern European vats and underwent 100% malolactic fermentation. Though aged on the lees, there was no batonnage. 12.6%
Quinta do Regueiro Alvarinho Reserva 2014 (Monção e Melgaço, Vinho Verde DOC)
A lively, just the right side of knife-edge cusp of ripeness fruit, with bright, crunchy pear, crisp apple fruit, spicy tomato plant and a pleasurable twang of (cheddar cheese) sock to the jaw acidity. 12.5%
Quinta do Regueiro Primitivo Alvarinho 2014 (Monção e Melgaço, Vinho Verde DOC)
This cuvée is new to me. Firm, very precise and restrained on nose and palate with great length – prodigious energy – to its pure as snow steely grapefruit, pink grapefruit and pear sorbet fruit. Retains terrific citrus zing, focus and length on day three. Another deeply impressive Alvarinho, this one more fruit-focused than Seabra’s Cru. 12.5%