“Portugal is able to produce white wines that are capable of matching and, in some places, exceeding their red peers” – Charles Metcalfe
Vinho Verde is not what it used to be. The sunny hills of Monção and Melgaço on the Minho river in Northern Portugal on the boarder with Galicia, is now home to fresh, clean and appley varietal Alvarinho which is sheer delight. Soalheiro Alvarinho is just that.
At a World Of Fine Wine ‘Potuguese Whites’ blind tasting in London last year, Richard Mayson gave it (vintage 2012) 14/20, Charles Metcalfe MW 15.5/20 and Joanna Simon MW 16/20 (Very good wine with some outstanding features).
I first tasted it at the DOC – Rui Paula’s celebrated restaurant in the upper Douro in June. It perfectly partnered an excellent grilled octopus. Few days later I was delighted to drink it again en magnum at the O Gaveto Seafood Restaurant just outside Porto with their signature Lobster Rice. In August, I drank it at a Sunday lunch arranged by the Harrogate Medical Wine Society. This time it was paired with a smoked salmon, prawn and cream cheese roulade. On each occasion, the wine tasted excellent and the food pairing worked well.
It is a cold and gloomy autumn’s day today and supper is going to be fish pie. I must admit that I am partial to fish pie. I considered a Chardonnay and a Semillon to accompany it but eventually decided on Soalheiro Alvarinho 2013. You probably think I am now sold on Soalheiro. Yes, you are right!
The wine is crisp without enamel stripping acidity and is fragrant and poised and has the Albarino/Alvarinho birth certificate with the characteristic bitter finish. I love it and give a score of 16.
I will back in northern Portugal next summer and will be spending a few days in Ponte de Lima. I will make sure that I visit Soalheiro.
(Soalheiro Alvarinho 2013 is available from the Wine Society at £14.95 per 75 cl bottle)