Tasting Notes With Jim Beauregard: This white wine from Portugal is not to be missed

By JIM BEAUREGARD April 10. 2018 10:21PM

Last week, we looked at a Portuguese red wine. So it’s only fair to look at a white wine this week.

Portugal boasts a number of winemaking regions, and also its own particular terminology on its wine labels.

In Golden Portugal, the major wine producing regions are Bairrada, Dão, Duoro (which is also port country) and Vinho Verde. There are two large southern regions, Alentejo and Ribatejo. It is the first of these southern regions we are talking about today.

Alentejo is in the southern half of Portugal, lying inland just to the west of the Gaudiana River. Because it lies further inland, as we mentioned last week, its climate is more continental (meaning it has four seasons) as well as hot, dry summers. It’s also one of the largest cork producing regions in Portugal.

Alentejo covers a lot of territory, about a third of Portugal, and runs right up to the Spanish border in the west. This region provides a lot of Portugal’s wines for domestic consumption, but it also exports as well. During this decade, there are about 50,000 acres in the region under vine.

Last week’s red was a blend, and this week’s white wine is also a blend of three grapes.

As is true with the great Bordeaux blends, the reason they blend in the first place is because each grape contributes something unique to the final symphony. These are the three grapes that make up the blend, and what they contribute:

Arinto (55 percent), the largest contribution to this blend, is a highly acidic white grape and that high acidity makes it ideal for growing in a very hot climate. It can provide flavors of lemon, leaf illness and some mineralogy, and also contributes to aging.

Viognier (30 percent), is better known as a French grape, produces a heavier wine, and is capable of giving flavors of stone fruit like apricot, peach, as well as floral notes and perfume. It is frequently used in the Rhône Valley.

Verdelho (15 percent) makes the smallest contribution to this blend, and it is not to be confused with the Spanish Verdejo. This grade can provide a variety of flavors, from tropical fruit to floral and herbal notes, as well as caramel. It is well known in Madeira and is also sometimes known as Gouveio.

So, with these possibilities in mind, let’s take a look at today’s white wine:

Terra Forte 2016 Vinho Regional Alentejano, Arinto (55%), Viognier (30%), Verdelho (15%).

Golden color, medium hue, and a rich nose of white fruit. On the palate, this is a crisp white with good acidity, good balance of components, and well-integrated alcohol and flavors of stone fruit including apricot and a hint of peach, as well as a hint of lemon peel. There’s a little bit of wet stone flavor too, giving it depth and clarity. Long finish that holds the fruit right through to the end. Each of the three grapes that went into this bottle finds expression in a beautiful blend. You’re not going to find many wines like this in this price range, so scoop it up while it’s still around. I paired it with a whole wheat baguette and some gruyere. Perfect.

Contact wine and beer writer Jim Beauregard at tastingnotesnh@aol.com.


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