White wines from Spain and Portugal
My mind usually has thoughts of red wines when it comes to Portugal and Spain, but there are lovely and unique whites that deserve consideration.
One particular grape variety, that does well on the northern coasts of Portugal and Spain, is known as alvarinho in Portugal and albariño in Spain.
Vinho Verde, which means “green wine”, is not a wine grape, but the name of a district in the north of Portugal.
Up to 20,000 small producers make red, white and rosé there, although 86 per cent of it consists of bright and fresh white.
In fact, there are just under twenty white-grape varieties in the area that can be utilised.
Casal de Ventozela, a family winery that owns about 55 acres, harvest their alvarinho grapes by hand and then they ferment 90 per cent of the juice in stainless steel tanks, with the rest going into French oak barrels. The resulting wine is fresh and complex with citrus, green apples, pears and white peaches followed by a touch of vanilla. Casal de Ventozela Alvarinho 2017 is one of the best and it can be yours for $21.35.
Veiga Naúm is the winery in Rías Baixas, a wine region (denominación de origen) that produces the most renowned and reputed white wines in Spain. Their line of wines is made exclusively with albariño grapes from small plots of vineyards with an average vine age of 15 years, located in the centre of the Salnés Valley district. These wines possess the typical intense fruit of albariño and stand out for their freshness and pleasing, complex mouthfeel.
Viega Naum Albarino 2017 Riax Baixas is pale golden-yellow with a green tint. The nose is of flowers, ripe pear, peach, apple, melon and dried pineapple. $20.90.
Back to Portugal and Casal de Ventozela Vinho Verde Arinto 2017. Arinto is a versatile grape that does well in most of this nation's wine regions and it is said that it can exhibit lemon barley, apple, green herbs, elderflower, honeysuckle, green apple, grapefruit and lime. The winery describes ripe fruit, white plum, citrus and orange jam along with a hint of sparkles. $17.45.
In just seven years, Spanish winery Casa Rojo has made a name for its wines internationally thanks to their award-winning, exceptional quality. The wines' colourfully artistic labels and witty names like Alexander v the Ham Factory, The Invisible Man, MachoMan Monastrell and The Orange Republic also work in their favour.
Named one of the 100 Best Wineries in the World by Wine & Spirits magazine in 2014, Casa Rojo's main pursuit is the expanding collection of The Wine Gurus' wines, which serves as an ambassador for some of Spain's most diverse and important wine regions.
In each of these carefully chosen regions, the emphasis is on native grape varieties, limited productions and capturing the essence of the particular terroirs. Not for nothing, the wines have received international acclaim.
In the 1970s an indigenous Spanish grape called godello was hovering on the brink of extinction, but enthusiastic fans have brought it back to the point where is competes with albariño and verdejo.
Casa Roja Godello 2017 The Orange Republic, from a small winery that specialises in autochthonous grape varieties, is straw yellow in colour, with greenish reflections. On the nose, we find sweet aromas, mango, apricot and orange blossom. In the mouth it's silky, unique, enveloping, tasty and structured. $30.95.
Casa Roja El Gordo del Circo Verdejo 2017 gets its fruit about 100 miles north of Madrid in the area known as Rueda. This location has really been “put on the map” by the crisp, fresh and aromatic verdejo grape. Bright and clean, yellow with greenish hints, the nose is restrained ripe fruit, both green and tropical, mingled with fresh herbal nuances. The palate is powerful with a concentration of lively pear and apple fruit, underlying passion fruit and spice, finishing full with mouth-coating sweet fruit and even more minerality and layers of citrus spice and herbs. An excellent white that can be chilled well and would be best served with shellfish and even as an aperitif. $25.10.
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