The Wine Society: Portugal’s white wine champions
Which Portuguese wines are most popular? In a recent interview for Blend All About Wine The Wine Society’s buyer, Jo Locke MW, told me “Vinho Verde is the current star, at all price levels.” No surprises then that The Wine Society’s 15th vintage of Wine Champions features no less than three Vinho Verdes – great going when you consider just 43 champions were selected from some 700 blind-tasted wines.
Quinta de Azevedo, Niepoort Dócil, Anselmo Mendes Contacto Alvarinho Vinho Verde (all the 2014 vintage) are all crackers too (which feature among the recommendations in my Guide to Vinho Verde & the Minho). Members of The Wine Society can buy a special offer mixed case of six (two bottles of each Vinho Verde) for £59.
But they’re not the only Portuguese white wines in the portfolio worth a look. Quite a few featured in my “Portugal: whites to excite” feature for July’s Decanter magazine and here are another three “champions” which I’ve tasted this month from The Wine Society – all great value at under £8.
Quinta da Espiga 2014 (Lisboa)
This blend of Fernão Pires, Arinto, Moscatel, Sauvignon Blanc and Verdelho has an impressive concentration of tangy, flavoursome citrus fruit and green mango wed to punchy acidity. It makes for a good value fruity quaffer. Perfect to chill (you and the wine) having chucked the sardines on the barbie! 12.5% £6.50 at The Wine Society
Adega de Pegões Colheita Seleccionada 2014 (Peninsula de Setúbal)
For Chardonnay lovers who fancy an exotic Portuguese twist in the tail this blend of equal parts Chardonnay, Arinto, Verdelho and Antão Vaz fits the bill. Aged for 3 months in French and American oak it offers creamy pear with juicier stone fruits, star fruit and greengage tang. Very well done. 13% £6.75 at The Wine Society
Alvaro Castro Dão 2014 (Dão)
Alvaro Castro has been a leading light in the Dão for many years now and is one of my favourite Portuguese producers full stop. This unoaked blend of local grapes Cercial, Bical and Encruzado offers plenty of bang for buck . With a good few hours skin contact, a slow natural ferment and ageing on the lees with batonnage, it has plenty of gout de terroir, mouthfeel and layer – a lot of complexity for the price. It reveals well-focused layers of quince, apricot close to the kernel (tart and a bit nutty) wed to a firm backbone of mineral acidity. With lingering, savoury ‘sourdough’ lees to the crisp, tight finish it makes the Quinta da Espiga look flamboyantly fruity, but if you like minerality and restraint, this is a great value wine for you! It would appeal to lovers of (dry) Loire Chenin. 13% £7.95 at The Wine Society