This is a winning white; from the minute the cork is out, you'll get a beautiful and rewarding wine that is complete in flavour, texture and length. In an era when white Burgundy is pricing itself like a game of poker, this is a very smart and viable alternative to many Macon village wines.
A ripe, pretty and enticing nose with notes of white fruit and honey, it is delicious and mouth-watering. A totally authentic Portuguese white made only from indigenous Gouveio (which is the same as the Spanish Godello) and Encruzado grape varieties, it does an almighty copy of Chardonnay from Burgundy!
Made from hand harvested grapes grown in two vineyards planted at 500 metres above sea level, a third of the wine is fermented in a variety of old oak vats - ranging from small barriques to massive vats - and then, once blended, another third of the wine is aged for six months in French barriques. This amount of oak use, for us, is pitch perfect for this wine. It gives a little structure for food matching and adds some sauce to the freshness and initial naïvety of the wine. It's way better than you think it'll be!
The Dão region is an area to the north of Portugal that is high in altitude, surrounded by mountains and influenced by the cool Atlantic ocean. It's no surprise that it ha a reputation for long, slow ripening periods! The balance to that lovely cool and gentle process comes from Spain in the form of the often unpredictable "Meseta", the arid, hot wind from the east (there is a regional Portuguese saying that "Neither a good wind nor a good marriage comes from Spain"). Indeed, though Quinta dos Carvalhais has a high altitude and large estate of 105 hectares, they are currently undergoing extensive replanting on account of the massive fire damage that Portugal endured in 2017, ignited largely because of the hot winds blowing on dry, rainless vineyards.
However, their commitment to hand harvesting indigenous grapes in this ungiving territory, their attention to plot-specific vinification and careful blending is massively rewarding. The quality of the wine that they make is really very much of the highest in the region. The company is owned and supported by a very large Portuguese group called SoGrape, who essentially keep the operation funded in order that their mission remains achievable. Hooray for bug corporations in this instance at least.
I met their lovely overseas support agent, Mary, when I tasted these wines. No need to sell, no desire to push me for massive volumes (no possibility of me taking them either...) - there was a natural enthusiasm and total understanding of the winery's program that she was so clear and focused about. It's a set of vines that has had real difficulties in the recent past, but there is such a sure-set quality of ethos, permeating all levels, that I'm really happy to help Mary in any way I can!
Grape(s): Godello, Encruzado
Style: Vibrant, Smooth, Medium-Light, Fresh, Engaging, Elegant, Crisp, Bright
Best food matches: Tuna, Trout, Tapas, Sushi, Shellfish, Seafood, Scallops, Salads, Poultry, Pork, Pasta, Oysters, Lobster, Hard Cheeses, Charcuterie, Asparagus, Aperitif