Portuguese whites – wine column

Porta 6 Vinho Verde 2017
Porta 6 Vinho Verde 2017

Apparently the fashionable city to visit this year for a weekend break is Lisbon, taking its place alongside Paris, Rome and Barcelona, says Alisair Gibson. 

I visited the port region and there is no doubt the pound goes further in Portugal but there is more to it than that.

Azevedo Loureiro Alvarinho 2017

Azevedo Loureiro Alvarinho 2017

It’s one of the oldest cities in the world, predating London, Rome and Paris by hundreds of years.

There’s lots of history and it has gained a serious foodie reputation.

But if you’re planning a weekend in Lisbon what are you going to drink?

Port is, of course, Portugal’s most famous wine and the red wines of the Douro, Dão and Alentejo are becoming increasingly recognised here in the UK. 

Terra d'Alter Fado 2017

Terra d'Alter Fado 2017

But white wine is perhaps not what most consumers associate with this Iberian country.

Vinho verde or ‘young wine’ is one of the best-known Portuguese white wines.

The region is located in the cool north-west of the country, close to the Spanish boarder from where Spain’s famous albariño is produced.

It takes its name from the fact that it’s traditionally bottled and made for early consumption, generally released three to six months after the harvest.

The wines are generally relatively low in alcohol and many are bottled with a slight spritz which makes them particularly well-suited to summer sipping.

Porta 6 Vinho Verde 2017 (Majestic £8.99 but £7.99 if part of a mixed six) is a recent addition to Majestic’s very successful Porta 6 Portuguese range.

It’s made from a blend of local grapes, loureiro, trajadura and arinto and is a good starting place if you’ve not tasted vinho verde before.

It's very pale, almost green in colour, with notes of apple and citrus on the nose followed by a very fresh palate with the classic touch of spritz.

It has a zesty acidity and maybe just a hint of sweetness on the finish.

It’s only 9.5 per cent and doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Altogether a bit more serious is Quinta de Azevedo Loureiro Alvarinho 2017, Vinho Verde (thefinewinecompany.co.uk £51.02 for six).

Alvarinho is the Portuguese name for albariño and this brings a little more of the weight often found in Spanish albariños from just across the border. The nose opens up to reveal lime, orange blossom and a touch of apricot, the palate is quite ripe with citrus and a touch of minerality before a nice crisp finish.

This is bottled without the classic vinho verde spritz and as such it makes a more interesting wine to match with food, try this with poached salmon.

We’re moving south of Lisbon to the warmer Alentejano region now. 

Terra d’Alter Fado 2017, Alentejano (The Wine Society £7.75) is a blend of local grapes síria and arinto with a little viognier.

Made in quite a modern style, it has lemon and pear fruits on the nose, followed by a fresh citrus palate with a touch of apricot and orange on the finish with well-balanced acidity.

Match this with some freshly grilled sardines while you think of Lisbon.