The last decade has seen somewhat of a revival if not a new birth of Portuguese white wine. Portugal, best known for its red wine due its hot and sunny climate has never really been associated with quality white wines. As the saying goes, anything worth having is worth waiting for and this couldn’t be truer of Portuguese whites.
Both Sarah Ahmed (Decanter, 2018) and John Wilson (The Irish Times, 2018) have been swept off their feet with their new Portuguese romance. Sarah Ahmed praises the ‘freshness, restraint and intrinsic personality’ of Portuguese white wine, which highlights the country’s diverse terroir and native grapes. The notable and tantelising acidity found in Portuguese whites is thanks to the country’s Atlantic influence and mountainous landscape.
Vinho Verde seems to be the region gaining the most traction lately. Its name is accredited to the luscious green pastures of the countryside it is grown in, not the colour of the wine – some wine trivia that might help you in your next table quiz… Grown in northern Portugal, which has a cooler climate than the south that expels a freshness onto the wines that makes for a rather enjoyable if not jovial drinking experience.
The Douro region is producing some extraordinary whites too. These are grown on the higher Douro vineyards on classic schist soils. Moving slightly further south again, the Dao region, home to the Encruzado grape is producing some outstanding whites often compared to white Burgundy. Lets not forget the rare Azorean grapes that are producing some explosively mineral dry whites.
Sarah Ahmed recommends three of our wines as her favourite new releases.
Vale da Capucha, Blend, Torres Vedras, Lisboa 2015 – “Proximity to the Atlantic gives Chablis-like nervosity to this thrilling organic blend of Fernao Pires and Arinto. Precise palate, with lip-smacking acidity.”
Azores Wine Co, Antonio Macanita Arinto dos Acores Sur Lies, Pico, Acores 2016 – “Pale and interesting, this tensile, mineral wine has a rapier-like attack, with steely grapefruit. Salt-flecked pink grapefruit and oyster shell notes; long finish.”
Niepoort, Redoma, Cima Corgo, Douro 2016 – “Long, deep and not forced, with the oak dialled back. Gently lemony ‘floaty’ fruit, salty green olives, ripe apple, sweet talc, bay leaf and pebbly acidity.”
John Wilson credits Portuguese whites as being ‘great summer wines, guaranteed to please the most jaded of palates’. He includes one of our new wines this year in his range of exciting whites.
Aphros Loureiro, Vinho Verde 2016 – “A vibrant, crisp dry wine with a beautifully textured palate of orange peel and juicy pears. Perfect with seafood salads or as an aperitif.”
There seems to be big things ahead for Portuguese whites!