The golden touch: Dona Paterna Alvarinho Vinho Verde

Portugal has a great ambassador for its wines at the Hotel du Vin, Tunbridge Wells. Interviewing Portuguese Head Sommelier Victor Amaro for my recent feature on the rise and rise of Portuguese white wines (published in July’s edition of The Drink’s Business), Amaro revealed that his best-selling wine by the glass ever is Dona Paterna Alvarinho. So popular was it that he listed it by the glass for six months, rather than the customary three.

The Codesso family has grown Alvarinho since 1974, but only launched the Dona Paterna label in 1990. The wines first came to my attention when the Melgaço-based producer scooped two Gold Medals at last year’s Alvarinho International Wine Challenge (for Dona Paterna Colheita and Dona Paterna Reserva 2010). Below, you’ll find my notes on both these wines, plus the follow up vintage of the Colheita.

Dona Paterna Colheita Alvarinho 2011 (Monção e Melgaço Vinho Verde)

A coolly expressive nose shows delicate poached pears, pear skin (this wine sees skin contact), and celery salt, which follow through on a very tight, tamgy, mineral, persistent palate. Very good indeed. 13%

Dona Paterna Colheita Alvarinho 2010 (Monção e Melgaço Vinho Verde)

With ripe citrus/pineapple to nose and palate, spicy pear fruit, juicy acidity and an undertow of minerality to the finish, this lees aged and stirred Alvarinho wears its oak well (20% is aged in old French barrels with regular fine lees stirring). Well done.

Dona Paterna Alvarinho Reserva 2010 (Monção e Melgaço Vinho Verde)

A complex, more concentrated nose and palate shows ripe, muscular apricot fruit with hints of cinnamon spice. A streak of fresh, minerally acidity adds race and pace to the fruit, making for an elegant, long delivery à la Usain Bolt.  Golden. 13%

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