Rise, Atlantis, Rise!

Without the Gulf Stream, warming Western Europe with the warm winds and waters of Central America, not only would our world and climate be markedly different, our history and civilization would not be as we know it today. A glacial Western Europe would probably not have given birth to modern England, Italy, Spain, Germany and France. Other regions would have taken up the mantle and their places in history, but our world would have evolved differently.

I doubt Bordeaux would have grasped the crown of the world of wine.

In our universe's version of Earth, with Europe receiving this boon of bearable winters and glorious summers, there is often a big difference in climates, and thus terroir, between wine regions close to the Atlantic and those only a few hundred kilometers away.

A week ago (February 21st), I participated in a tasting we titled Atlantean White Wines. Or, to be  more precise, white wines from Spain and Portugal. How does the Atlantic climate affect these wines? If I may be allowed to TL;DR,: salty!

Anselmo Mendes, Monção and Melgaço, Alvarinho, Curtimenta  2017 

From the greatest appellation of Vinho Verdes, comes a semi-orange (that is, short skin contact) wine from one of the region's best winemakers. As much as I love Portuguese whites, and as much as I try not to judge a region by its base wines, Vinho Verde are always too sweetly fruity for me, even in the higher levels. My problem isn't with the quality of winemaking, but rather with the flavor profile of Alvarinho and the other local whites. Here, though, the palate is sweetish in proportion and the nose shows perfect poise, with a dash of minerals. Excellent, even if it's not really a world beater (I prefer Mendes' other flagship, the Parcela Única Escolha).

Zarate, Rías Baixas, Albariño, El Palomar, 2018

Alvarinho in Portugal, Albariño in Spain. Tomato, tom-ato. This and the following are among the greatest Albariños that Spain has to offer. Sourced from 150 year old vines, the nose shows a touch of reduction that serves to give the minerals a shove so they can stumble to the front stage. On the palate, a very long finish, wherein slightly sweetish fruit, similar to its Portuguese counterpart but saltier and more to my tastes, is firmly braced by minerals. Offer this to any lover of saline, salty wines and watch their eyes pop.

Bodegas Forjas del Salnes, Rías Baixas, Albariño, Leirana Finca Genoveva 2018

200 year old vines - my God, Napoleon was in power when the vines were planted! - cultivated by lifelong viticulturalist, Rodri Mendez, who saved/restored the venerable vineyard owned by his family. This is far ahead of the El Palomar, and for all the right reasons. The balance is better, it's more complex yet more delicate and nuanced, with a lightly chalky texture. If the El Palomar would make your eyes pop, with will close them again in contemplative pleasure.

Fedellos do Couto, Ribeira Sacra, Testoiro 2019

60-80 year old Godello, Doña Blanca, and Colgadeira vines from a high altitude site around the village of Soutipedre. There is a surprising contrast between the ripe apricots on the nose and the dialed down opulence on the palate, where the fine acidity lances the same apricots and uncovers a chalky texture. After that, I start to get some turpentine on the nose, which I'm not sure is very becoming.

Guimaro, Ribeira Sacra, Blanco Cepas Viejas, 2019

The Godello world did not perform well this evening. The nose is, well, interesting - dominated by black coffee and cardamom. It 's the kind of nose that makes you stop before the first sip and wonder what the palate will being. An oaky texture in this case, although I understand from others who returned to it an hour later that it had vastly improved.

Luis Pato, Bairrada, Quinta do Ribeirinho, 2020

Pato's high end white is made of Sercialinho, which may or may not be related  be related to the somewhat more familiar Sercial. Lemons and talc on the nose, the almost classic signature of Bairrada whites. Good acidity, a one-dimensional palate dominated at first by oak. It still needs time, which is what I thought when I had it almost exactly a year ago.

And now, for the last stretch, the wines of António Maçanita, which I've been raving about incessantly in the last few months. Since I've already written about the first two recently, I'll just drop links for them.

Maçanita, Douro, Folgasão, 2020


António Maçanita, Alentejano, Trincadeira-das-Pratas, Chão Dos Eremitas, 2020


Azores Wine Company, Vinho Regional Açores, Terrantez do Pico, 2020

Maçanita has a few projects going on in Portugal. The above are his Duoro and Alentejo holdings. He's made a big imprint in the Azores Islands, where this is one of his flagship wines. The nose is redolent with funky minerals. By that, I don't mean that the wine is dirty or smelly, but rather that the mineral aromas get at you from different angles, singing a different song that we hear elsewhere. The palate pours on salty sensations, beautifully countered by fresh yellow fruit on medium-full, round, yet focused body.

Cota 45, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, UBE Miraflores, 2019

Ramiro Ibáñez, is the winemaker behind Cota 45. Ramiro, a native of Sanlúcar, "is striving to revive traditions and express the unique terroir of Jerez" and what this means in the case of this wine is an unfortified, single vintage, single vineyard manzanilla. This isn't exactly a white wine to serve the average drinker. The nose smells like someone piecing together an electric battery, the palate is olive oil and zaatar on the finish. I like it in small doses, whereas I could have gone through a bottle of the previous three all by myself.


Assaf Ovadia said…
Amazing Flight!
Just to be clear:
Sercialinho is a crossing between Cercial from DAO and Alvarinho.
there are Two other verieties that share a similar name:
Cerceal that is being used to make Pato's "Parcela Candido".
Sercial that is one of the grape varieties of Madeira.