Portuguese Whites for Summer
Travel is still off the cards for a lot of us, but we're giving Portuguese wines the green light. So give yourself a taste of Portugal this summer and whet your whistle for the next time you can get a bit of Iberian sunshine.
And if you thought Portuguese wine was all about those big Douro reds, think again.
Minho, home of Vinho Verde and Alvarinho (Albariño in Galicia, Spain), is cooled by the Atlantic Ocean. High altitude sites even in the Douro mean a branco wine can hold onto that refreshing acidity. Seeking out altitude elsewhere also avoids the excessive heat which can throw a white wine out of balance.
With lifted acidity, crisp citrus fruit notes and lower alcohol levels, Portuguese wines can be ideal choices for summer sipping.
This is quite a rich style of Alvarinho, because the fruit is grown in Monção e Melgaço where hills shelter the vines from the worst of the weather from the Atlantic. It's an intense wine with citrus and tropical fruit flavours and a touch of saline minerality. A superb wine to serve beside seared scallops or I enjoy it with a Mediterranean style salad with feta cheese.
This wine is made with the same grapes as their white Port, but the fruit is grown at higher altitudes and picked earlier to retain that essential freshness. It has lovely stony minerality, citrus fruit and a long finish. I love the floral element, too, but it's that mineral note that defines all of Quinta de la Rosa's wines. It's an excellent, refreshing aperitif, or you can drink it as a companion to Portuguese salt cod. If you're a fan of Chablis or Italian whites like Gavi, Pecorino or Trebbiano d'Abruzzo, give this a try.
Alentejo is a warm, inland region so winemaker Peter Bright has sought out vineyards in the foothills of the Serra de São Mamede mountains to avoid over ripe fruit. Terra d'Alter Siria/Arinto/Viognier is a beautiful blend. The Arinto, a native grape, adds some grip, the Viognier adds body and the Siria (Malvasia to you and me) gives aromatic, citrus and floral notes. It's something a bit different - and delightful! The nose has intense tropical fruits with elegant vanilla and coconut notes.
Finally for cocktail lovers, why not try a White Port & Tonic?
This is delicious served chilled on its own or with tonic as a long drink with tonic that's lower alcohol than G&T. It's got notes of lemon zest, butterscotch, almond, clementine and lime juice. Garnish wine a slice of orange. Gorgeous.