Galicia Diaries Day 6: Albariiño aka Alvarinho
Today is our last day in Galicia as we head to Porto where some people will return home and others will continue on our Portugal tour.
But we took advantage of the route south to visit 2 Portuguese producers of Alvarinho, as it’s called in Portugal in the Vinho Verde area.
Our first visit was to Adega Soalheiro. Owner Luis Cerdeira greeted us and was our host during what many of us thought was one of our best visits of the tour.
Luis’ father started the winery in 1974, the year of the Portuguese revolution when the dictatorship was overthrown.
The very first parcel he developed was called Soalheiro, the Portuguese word for sunny. In 1982 they bottled their first commercial wine and in 1995 their first sparkling wine. The objective has always been to showcase all of the dimensions of the Alvarinho.
Production is at 700,000 bottles annually They own 10 hectares and lease additional vineyards from 90 producers.
Our professionally conducted tasting was led by Luis who is a consummate entertainer and educator. Here is the line up for the 11 wines: Classico 2018, tropical aromas, more mouth filling, from fertile valley soils; Granit 2018, distinctive mineral aromas and taste, lean, austere with pronounced acidity, a great food/wine match;Primeiras Vinhas 2017, a single vineyard site from 40 year old vines, finished in oak and stainless steel; Reserva 2017, aged in oak casks, fermented in oak barrels with batonnage of the lees to add roundness; Allo 2018 70% Coureiro and 30% Alvarinho, a delightful sipping wine; Rosé 2018 blend of Pinot Noir 30% and Alvarinho (70%), bone dry;White Blend 2018, Alvarinho (30%) and Sauvignon Blanc, vegetal, grassy, high acidity; Terramatter 2017, unfiltered, cloudy, citrus flavors, crisp; Nature Pur Terroir 2017, yeasty, beer-like, suggestive of a vintage Champagne; Sparkling Nature Pur Terroir 2016, again reminiscent of an aged vintage Champagne.
The objective of Soalheiro is to prove that Alvarinho can have different interpretations and calling these wines simply Vinho Verde does them an injustice when compared to the usual Vinho Verde wines sold in the States.
Salamis, ham, blood sausage,mountain sausage, 3 kinds of goat cheese, fresh and aged, piquillo peppers, cabbage and kale minestrone, pork and nata custard dessert, all of the above made at the Soalheiro farm.
The wines accompanying our lunch:
Adega da Soalheira sparkling 1999, a delight after 19 years; Alvarinho Vinho Verde 1999 tasted like an older Riesling; Bisalo 2017 -a sparkler made from Alvarinho; Brut Rosé 2017 made from Alvarinho and Touriga Nacional.
Before driving to Porto, we visited one more Alvarinho producer, Quinta de Santiago, where the dynamic daughter Joanna Santiago, led us on a tasting of their interpretations of Alvarinho.