May Wines of the Month: two fine Portuguese white wines
As always, Wines of Portugal’s annual London tasting proved fertile ground for new finds and new vintages of familiar faces (palates). Here are my notes on two rather different Portuguese white wines from adjoining regions – the Baião sub-region of Vinho Verde and the Douro.
Quinta do Ferro Avesso “From the Mountain” 2015 (Vinho Verde)
I’d not encountered the wines of Quinta do Ferro before, but their range of four Avessos combined with a flight of several at last week’s Decanter World Wine Awards reinforces that this is a variety to watch. Founded in 1999, the family-owned estate makes two still Avessos and two sparkling ones. This comes from the parcel which, at 600m, is earmarked for the fizz (apparently the first traditional method example from Vinho Verde). Where “From the River” cuvee at 300m has softer, golden delicious fruit with a saline note, the ‘From the Mountain’ cuvee sports really crunchy apple so fresh and pure it put me in mind of a granita or sorbet! Impressive intensity, focus and drive. 11.5% (versus 13% for the ‘From the River’ cuvee). Quinta do Ferro wines are imported into the UK by Lisbon Wines.
Quinta de la Rosa Reserve White 2015 (Douro)
I caught up with Quinta de la Rosa’s Chief Winemaker Jorge Moreira last week and we discussed this surprisingly good vintage for whites. Surprising because it was so hot leaves browned and grapes went into lock down. While this is a fruit forward vintage, the wines nonetheless have retained great balance; they are really delicious and I’m hoping to find the same in the New Douro 2015 reds which I am tasting here in Oporto this week. And to find out how the Douro whites fared in 2016. Back to la Rosa 2015 Reserva White, I reckon (as does Jorge) that this is the best yet. To preserve freshness, only 50% was fermented and matured in barrels, the rest in stainless steel tanks. It was bottled in April 2016 and, I dare say, benefited from time on lees and some batonnage, because it’s quite Burgundian. I particularly enjoyed its texture and layer, with savoury nutty lees, a delicate citrine kiss of lemon/grapefruit and well integrated mineral acidity. Sensitive oak is less about flavour, more about structure. A lovely blend of 60% Viosinho with old field blend grapes. I enjoyed it very much with sea bass at la Rosa’s restaurant just the week before last. 13.5% Ready to go and a smart buy at £14.40 at Just in Cases.