What to drink this week

Por­tuguese whites

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country Notebook -

Por­tuguese white wines might sound like a truly ob­scure sub­ject—the canny choice of an ex­pe­ri­enced Mas­ter­mind con­tes­tant, per­haps— but don’t switch off: I’ve been find­ing some gen­uinely in­ter­est­ing late­sum­mer se­lec­tions from the west­ern shores of Ibe­ria. They range from the light, prickly and tangy to the se­ri­ously in­tense.

They may be an ad­ven­tur­ous choice, but Por­tuguese whites are worth try­ing, ad­vo­cates Harry Eyres

Why you should be drink­ing them

Por­tu­gal’s great at­trac­tion has al­ways been its dowry of in­dige­nous grape va­ri­eties. The prob­lem used to be lack of in­vest­ment and know-how in the win­ery, lead­ing to a dull card­boar­d­i­ness and a lack of fresh­ness and fruit. Now, how­ever, am­bi­tion and skill are much more in ev­i­dence. In the Douro, Por­tu­gal’s premier wine area, re­sults can be spec­tac­u­lar.

What to drink

Por­tu­gal’s Al­var­inho is the same grape as Gali­cia’s Al­bar­iño, grown a lit­tle fur­ther north, and the wines have sim­i­lar fresh­ness and salti­ness, at a rea­son­able price. Casal de Ven­tozela Al­var­inho 2015 (£9.99; www.ma­jes­tic.co.uk) is ripe and soft, but has some struc­ture and min­er­al­ity—good value. Mor­ga­dia de Torre Al­var­inho 2015 Vinho Verde (be­low, £11.99; www.ma­jes­tic.co.uk) is firm, dry and ele­gant. Go in­land up the Douro val­ley and you find se­ri­ously ex­cit­ing stuff. Niepoort’s Re­doma Branco 2014 (£18.90; www.tan­ners-wines.co.uk), made from a cock­tail of lo­cal va­ri­eties, is pale, al­most white­gold and sub­tly scented; a soft, fleshy en­try leads to a mid­dle palate of in­tense crunchy fruit and a long, min­er­ally fin­ish. Bril­liant stuff. More quirky is Cot­tas Grande Reserva Douro Branco 2011 (£14.99; www.wait­rose­cel­lar.com): big, limey, oaky and in­tense, it re­minds me of an aged Sémil­lon from the Hunter Val­ley.

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