Vinho Verde is something of a rare treat here in Australia, and I was fond of it before I ever tasted it, based purely on an article I read in an in-flight magazine on a TAP Portugal flight. These days if I come across it by the glass, it’s always a good start at a restaurant, as was the case with this Dona Paterna Alvarinho 2010.
This is actually the second Vinho Verde I’ve covered, with the first being from Anselmo Mendes back in February. I covered the basics, in that it’s a wine region in the north of Portugal with a maritime climate. At one point red and white wine were produced in equal measure, but these days the trade is dominated by white wines made largely from Alvarinho, Loureiro and Trajadura, at times with a slight spritz.
What I didn’t mention is that the region is divided into nine subregions, and this wine is from the Monção e Melgaço subregion. It is the northernmost of the subregions, and is set in from the coast, mitigating the Atlantic influence. As a result, the climate is more continental, with cold winters of average rainfall and hot, dry summers. The soils are granitic with areas of well drained shingle. The area is best known for Alvarinho, though I have found conflicting sources as to the permissibility of other white varieties. Wines are differentiated from neighbouring subregions by relatively high levels of alcohol up to 13%, low yields and slightly higher prices.
I’ve said that I like Vinho Verde but I haven’t really said why. Part of the answer is in the glass, in that it’s a light, refreshing style of wine that can be crisp and fruity at the same time, and the spritz you sometimes encounter gives it a gentle lift. Of course much of the reason is in my head, in that I associate it with summer and lazy lunches overlooking the sea. Also, the memory of reading about it on a flight so many years ago has remained with me as a reminder of how even then I enjoyed learning about new regions and wines.
Alvarinho, or Albariño as it is known more commonly outside of Portugal, is an Iberian grape also associated with Rias Baixas and we previously encountered it in the form of the Bodega Castro Martin Aobre Lias. As I mentioned then, it is a thick skinned and aromatic white grape, known for producing good levels of acid, alcohol and flavour. According to Wine Grapes, it is believed to be quite an old variety, and with Amaral is the parent of Caíño Blanco. However, it has been shown to be unrelated to Albarín Blanco and Alfrochiero (Albarín Negro).
Dona Paterna was founded in 1990 by the Codesso family who had been growing Alvarinho in the region since 1974. They are distributed by Vinalda (among others), but beyond that I have had a difficult time digging up any further information. In addition to this wine, they also produce a Reserva Albarinho. This wine was made with 12-24 hours of skin contact after crushing, and 20% of the blend saw time in old French oak with lees stirring.
In the glass this wine is clear and bright, with a pale lemon colour and thick slow legs. On the nose it’s clean, with medium minus intensity (though it was served very cold) and a developing character with notes of lemon custard, melon, persimmon, and cinnamon toast. On the palate it’s dry, with high acidity, medium body, medium intensity, medium alcohol, and medium length. There are notes of lemon peel, grapefruit, cantaloupe, and an almost salty, slightly metallic finish.
This wine is of good quality. It’s a bit sharp at the end but otherwise on the nose and palate it has a nice flavour profile with tart fruit dominating with a hint of sweetness on the nose. Young and meant to be drunk as such, it would be good with something salty on a hot day.
Pin in the map is approximate due to a lack of information about the producer.