Good Vinho Verde: not just Alvarinho…

As you know, I’m a huge fan of Alvarinho from Portugal’s Vinho Verde region.  And the variety is on the move, in Portugal and elsewhere in the world thanks to the popularity of Albarino (same grape) from Spain’s Rias Baixas.  However, I’m pretty certain that I won’t be coming across it in Australia over this next three weeks despite the country’s love affair with Iberian and Italian vareties.  Why?  It was recently discovered that Australia’s Alvarinho/Albarino cuttings were in fact the French variety, Savagnin – see Jancis Robinson MW’s report here for the detailed background to this story.  

As for Vinho Verde, I visited in July and have posted reports of some really top notch Alvarinho and Loureiro tastings here, here and here. Here’s my last report which includes some new names among those wines that stood out to me on a generic tasting in Oporto.  Not just Alvarinho either!

Quinta da Levada Azal 2009  – from the sub-region Amarante, this shows a lifted nose with cool flavours of melon, fruit salad and cucumber plus some sweaty passionfruit – a nod to Kiwi Sauvignon.  With a good depth of slightly creamy fruit and an attractive sour note to balance, it’s a well made modern style.                                   

Camélia Loureiro 2009 – made by Anselmo Mendes this is quite intense and complex, with guava, flint, waxy limes, spice and floral notes.  Terrible label though!

Quinta da Lixa Alvarinho Trajadura White 2009 – a consistently good performer, this shows ripe peach and apricot on nose and palate, with good richness and depth.  The Trajadura keeps it in check, lending a more mineral, stony quality. 12.5%

Quinta da Lixa Vinho Verde 2009 – vivid with bright and juicy greengage, guava and green tomato surrounding its peach and pear core.  Good concentration and depth of flavour, with spritz for freshness.  A flinty thiol note too. Good. 11.5%

Quinta de Carapeços Alvarinho/Trajadura 2009 (Minho) – a deep colour with a ripe apricot nose with pear skin.  Nicely balanced back foot palate, with pear and apricot fruit.

Quinta de Linhares Colheita Seleccionada White 2009  – a really attractive, well presented blend of Trajudura, Loureiro, and Avesso with a ripe attractive nose with fruit salad and fresh, zesty lemon.  Sweet lemon and lime with flowers and talc put me in mind of a Riesling, but it’s softer and gentler, the acidity refreshing rather than racy. 11.5%

Quinta de Linhares Avesso 2009 – ripe, ripe fruit, tingly pink grapefruit to be precise with perhaps just a touch too much residual sugar for my palate, though there’s a spicy pithy texture which provides some balance. 13%      

Quinta de Azevedo White 2009 – a reliably good Vinho Verde from Sogrape – my favourite wine of their vast portfolio – shows a fine spritz and lifted lemony nose and palate with fresh cucumber and melon.  Star bright, fresh style.  Very good value for money.

Quinta do Val Edmun Do Val Alvarinho 2008 – an exotic, aromatic textured Alvarinho, with jasmine, orange blossom and waxy citrus peel too – an evolved, textured style.  13%.  Very good and well presented.

Casa de Paços Loureiro/Arinto 2009 – a perfumed nose leads onto a tight, structured palate with good concentration of  tropical fruit salad and lemony persistence.  Partial skin maceration and barrel contact for the Arinto with lees stirring makes for an interesting wine with leesy sourdough tang to the finish.  Very good. 12.5%

Casa do Arrabalde Espinhosos 2009 – an unsual blend of Avesso, Alvarinho and Chardonnay, this has a creamy ripe palate with custard apple cut with refreshing spritz and a saline note; nice length with a mineral, flinty nuance.  

Casa do Arrabalde Branco 2009   – a blend of Avesso, Alvarinho and Arinto, fresher and more linear than the previous blend, with ripe fruit salad, sour greengage hints (good) and talc on a clean, quite long finish.

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