Portuguese Whites – Recent Releases

Kopke, Winemker’s Collection, Folgazão & Rabigato, Grande Reserva Douro, 2016 ****

 As part of its Winemaker’s Collection, Kopke has launched a limited-edition wine made up from two Douro grapes: the reserved Folgazão and fresh Rabigato. These are two of seven traditional white Douro grapes planted by Kopke. This wine is the third in the series made by Ricardo Macedo; a blend of 70% Folgazão and 30% Rabigato, aged in 300L French oak barrels and released with four years of age. Pale lemon-gold in hue with the oak beautifully integrated both on the nose and palate giving savoury-buttery richness and weight to the ripe yet taut fruit. The freshness and clarity of the Rabigato comes through on the finish and complements the structure of the Folgazão leaving a finish that is crisp and perfectly balanced despite its 14% abv. This is wine that is delicious now and should continue to develop well in bottle with age.  £28 and well worth it!  18 

 

The Society’s Exhibition Alvarinho, 2019 ****

The Wine Society’s Exhibition range is second to none and this wine focuses on one of Portugal’s best white grapes. It is now planted all over the country but will always be most at home in the extreme north of the country on the banks of the River Minho around Moncão and Melgaço. This wine is made at the Monção Co-operative, perhaps the most competent co-op in the country and the source of one of my go-to house whites: Muralhas de Monção. Pale and aromatic, steely dry with entrancing lemon sherbet piquancy and crisp fruit redolent of cox’s apple, this wine has beautiful, bracing acidity all the way through to the finish. Delightful as an aperitif or with grilled fish. 17.5   

Cedro do Noval Branco, Douro 2019 ****

This is the first white wine made by Quinta do Noval to be released in the UK. Christian Seely, Managing Director of Noval is ‘increasingly convinced that there is an extraordinary quality potential in the dry white wines of the Douro. There are some wonderful local varietals selected over time for their capacity to thrive in the climate of the Douro…’ This is made two of the Douro’s best white grapes, 65% Viosinho and 35% Gouveio, grown at 500 metres above sea level and picked early (from 7th September) to conserve natural acidity. The wine was entirely fermented in French oak at cool temperatures and aged in oak (25% new) for about six months with weekly bâtonnage for three months. Bright pale lemon-gold; savoury oak well integrated beneath lemony fruit both on the nose and on the palate with a hint of exotic peach and pineapple towards a long, lithe butter-cream finish. This wine thoroughly deserves its wider audience. 18 

Côrte, Douro 2019 ***

The vineyards of Quinta da Côrte are located at a lower altitude than those of Noval in the Torto Valley. This wine is 100% Viosinho fermented in new French oak casks of 500 litres and aged in the same casks until bottling in March 2020. The oak rather dominates the fruit on the nose with a pronounced smoky character but the fruit has retained its characteristic sherbet-like acidity and there is a touch of white-fleshed nectarine on the finish. 15.5   

IECWS Bin 007 Encruzado, 2019, Dão ****

A new wine reviving an old label: this is the seventh release in the The Society’s Bin Series and the first from Portugal. (The Wine Society was established on the back of Portuguese wine in 1874). This is pure Encruzado, the leading white grape in Dão which has proved itself very adaptable in the region since it was first documented there as recently as 1942. The wine was made by Carlos Lucas who decided to let the grape express itself without recourse to oak. Pale with a green tinge, it has a lovely restrained floral – mineral scent, taut acidity on the palate, pure, crystalline fruit and a graceful steely finish. Lovely now, this will develop in bottle over a couple of years and gain savoury gravitas with age. 18  

Scoring

19 - 20 An outstanding wine (*****)

17 – 18 An excellent wine in its class, highly recommended (****)

15 - 16 A good wine, with much to recommend it (***)

13 - 14 An enjoyable but simple, straightforward wine (**)

10 – 12 A very ordinary wine without faults but with no great merit (*)

8 - 10 Disagreeable (no stars)

Below 8 Faulty