Portuguese producers make charming white wines from native grapes that are perfect for sunny afternoons. In the northern region of Vinho Verde, the variety Alvarinho flourishes alongside Loureiro. Both create crisp, and often lightly effervescent, wines. In Vinho Verde, look for bottles from the Minho Valley, often considered Alvarinho’s true home.
Slightly inland lies the Douro Valley, which is most famous for powerful red blends. The Douro does also produce mineral-driven white blends from grapes grown on the mountain sides. South of Lisbon, winemakers battle the heat in Alentejano to produce top wines from Arinto and Alvarinho, with a few offerings from international varieties.
These 10 bottles can help you explore the terrior of Portugal’s white wines.
Aveleda 2018 Solos de Xisto Alvarinho (Minho); $20, 92 points. The schist soil of this Alvarinho vineyard has given a strongly mineral while also rich wine. It is finely textured, while also having great apple and green-plum fruits. This is a style that could age further and the wine will be best from 2021. Aveleda Inc. Editors’ Choice. —Roger Voss
Quinta da Raza 2019 Avesso (Vinho Verde); $17, 91 points. Regarded as one of the potentially top grapes in the Vinho Verde mix, Avesso is at home in the southern Vinho Verde region close to the Douro. The wine is rich, ripe with its pear and apricot fruits, perfumed and already delicious. It will be better in a few months, so drink from late 2020. OZ Wine Company. —R.V.
Wines & Winemakers 2018 Lua Cheia em Vinhas Velhas Nostalgia Alvarinho (Vinho Verde); $21, 91 points. Alvarinho from the privileged region of Monção and Melgaço has given a beautifully ripe and fragrant fruit. Aging the wine on its lees has increased the density of its texture as well as its yellow and white fruit flavors. Drink the wine now. Costa Nova. —R.V.
Quinta da Calçada 2019 Exuberant Loureiro (Vinho Verde); $17, 90 points. The wine has a perfumed character that brings out hints of tropical fruits as well as a herbal character. The wine is textured and mineral, intensely fruity. It is ready to drink. International Vines, Inc. —R.V.
Quinta da Ferradosa 2017 Vinhas Velhas White (Douro); $28, 91 points. This Joaquim Calem wine comes from a field blend of old vines fermented and aged in wood. The result is a smoothly textured wine that balances melon and yellow-fruit flavors against some attractive spiciness. The lift of acidity gives a complete wine. Drink now. St Clair Wines. Editors’ Choice. —R.V.
Quinta Vale D. Maria 2018 Vinhas do Sabor White (Douro Superior); $23, 91 points. This wine, made from up to 35-year-old vines, is rich and concentrated. It was fermented and aged in wood, which lends ample oak tones and an overall smoothness that calms the wine’s inherent fruitiness and complements the wine’s richness. Drink now. Aveleda Inc. —R.V.
Casa Relvas 2019 Art. Terra Amphora Arinto (Alentejano); $22, 90 points. Amphora aging has produced a light wine, very poised, with a soft texture and attractive citrus fruits. The wine’s freshness is balanced by a fine texture leaving plenty of space for the acidity at the end. Drink now. Quintessential Wines. Editors’ Choice. —R.V.
Cortes de Cima 2018 White (Alentejano); $22, 90 points. This producer has planted vineyards on the Atlantic Coast—ideal for white wines such as this. The wine’s blend with 50% Alvarinho emphasizes the fruitiness and crisp freshness, with green fruits and zesty acidity underlined by the wood aging. Drink the wine now. Tri-Vin Imports. —R.V.
Dona Maria-Júlio Bastos 2017 Amantis Reserva Viognier (Alentejano); $27, 90 points. The wood fermentation shows lightly in this ripely fruity wine. Apricot and tropical fruits are dominant, giving richness and warmth to contrast with the fresher acidity. Drink this fruity, elegant wine from late 2020. MS Walker. —R.V.
Kranemann Wine Estates 2018 Quinta do Convento Reserva White (Douro); $24, 90 points. This small production, partially wood-aged wine has a good balance between ripe tropical fruits and the warm spice from the barrels. It is a well-made wine that shows just a touch of freshness at the end. Aidil Wines/Old World Import. —R.V.
Published: May 15, 2020