You may have grown accustomed to the flavour profile of Spanish Albarino – crisp acidity and bright, citrus flavours laced with fleshy peach/apricot notes – the same grape variety thrives just across the border in Portugal in the regions of Monçao and Melgaço, where it is known as Alvarinho. The wine here has the same lean force as its Spanish counterpart, but with an extra dimension of amplitude and complexity.
In the hills of Melgaço lies one of the finest estates of all – Quinta de Soalheiro. Having fully converted to organic practices in recent years, the estate has been steadily building a reputation for producing the finest Alvarinhos in northern Portugal. During a recent visit to Soalheiro, Jim met with João and his son Luis and was impressed by their skilled winemaking and the purity, elegance and quality of the wines they produce. He has chosen four of their finest wines to bring a little sunshine to our shores!
Quinta de Soalheiro Alvarinho 2013
The 2013 vintage is described by Luis as a special harvest showing the purity of the Alvarinho fruit and striking a perfect balance between minerality and elegance. The end result seems quite brilliant. Soalheiro 2013 exudes delightful aromas with a palate that exhibits minerality and great elegance. Use as an aperitif or to accompany seafood, fish or poultry dishes.
Recommended in the Observer by David Williams who described the wine as “poised and peachy” (Observer, 4 May 2014).
Quinta de Soalheiro ‘Allo’ Alvarinho-Loureiro 2012
‘Allo’ is an abbreviation of the 2 grapes used in the blend, and stands for Alvarinho and Loureiro, two key varieties of the region. Delicate ripe spicy citrus and greengage fruit, subtle, with hints of minerality, perfectly dry, refreshing and full of personality. Low alcohol of 11% abv makes it the ideal lunchtime wine.
Quinta de Soalheiro Alvarinho Reserva 2012
Amazing as it seems to some people, there are Vinho Verdes that actually age and develop. Fermentation and ageing take place in French oak. The wine is elegant, full-flavoured and complex while maintaining the freshness and fruit of Alvarinho grape.
Quinta de Soalheiro Alvarinho Espumante 2011
This is a really classy sparkling wine made in the traditional method - a second fermentation in bottle is followed by the various procedures that are followed in Champagne production. Lovely aromas, very elegant and well balanced.