Drinking through Portugal wine regions I.
An engaging Alvarinho from Minho
Foot Trodden (2021), a book on Portuguese wine that I am currently reading, covers these eight regions: Minho, Douro, Dao, Bairrada, Colares, Ribatejo, Alentejo and Madeira (home of one of the most age-worthy wines). Other regions noted are Algarve, Setubal, Beiras Interior, Tránsmontano, Bucelas, VR Lisbon and Carcavelos. This is the start of an occasional focus on Portugal over the next month or two and I’ll try to get my hands on as many of the wines as I can. Any tips or help will be most welcome!
Quinta de Gomariz Alvarinho, Vinho Regional Minho, 2020, 13.5% ABV, €18.00 Bubble Brothers
I’m starting in Minho (where Vinho Verde comes from ) and I bought this Alvarinho at the Bubbles Brothers stall in the English Market. It has a bright and clean straw colour, no tints of green in this twilight hour. The nose is quite complex with scents of fresh citrus fruits as well as floral hints and a hint of honey. Quite a lively duet of flavour and freshness in the mouth on the way to a lip-smacking finalé.
Very engaging, Very Highly Recommended.
At a tasting some years ago in Cork, I heard a wine importer posit that it was difficult to find a bad Albarino.
António Sousa, winemaker at Gomariz would agree. In conversation with Jamie Goode, interview here, Sousa said: 'It's almost impossible to have a bad wine from this..’. He was speaking of Alvarinho, the same grape as Albarino. Gomariz operate in the extreme north of Portugal, close to the Minho River, the border with Spain, (you’ll know the area better as Vinho Verde).
I thought, for a long time, that Vinho Verde meant green (or young) wine and the most recent World Atlas of Wine seems to agree but I’ve also seen that it refers instead to the wet and green landscape.
Foot Trodden (2022) refers to Minho (the country’s second biggest wine region after the Douro) as “Portugal’s sister region to Galicia”. Here in the Spanish homeland of the ancient Celts, Rias Baixas, also wet and green, is home to the crisp light and refreshing Albarino.
Amazing how Albarino has taken off in Ireland over the past decade or more but you don’t see that much Alvarinho here. Many wines from Portugal are blends, sometimes with many grapes, and the less experienced customers find it difficult enough. But this one is 100% Alvarinho, surely not more difficult to pronounce than the successful Spanish equivalent. Perhaps the busy label here is off-putting for the casual wine-shopper.
We owe the Irish introduction of Gomariz wine to Bubble Brothers of course but the initial inspiration was provided by baker Declan Ryan. The Ryans had drank these wines while in the area and brought the info home and shared it with Bubble Bros who made good use of it!
Bubbles elaborate: ..the Alvarinho, which bears the legend 'Vinho Regional Minho' ...... The Quinta de Gomariz Alvarinho is a terrifically appealing wine from beginning to end, and it's not hard to see what appealed to the Ryans about this thrilling liquid..Thank you Declan Ryan for a fantastic tip, not to mention all the great loaves from Midleton and Mahon Point market.. .. .. .”