Goblet of white wine on wooden table on wooden wall background. Fotalia

A surprising Sauvignon Blanc

I found this wine (€14.15) at my local Intermarché supermarket and the unusual label caught my eye, looking a bit homemade, I suppose. But a quick Google search revealed some very scant information telling me that this is one of the wines making up a project of a Portuguese emigrant winemaker from France who returned to the homeland some 10 years ago. He has been travelling around the country making his own wines with different producers ever since. His brand name, Lés-a-Lés, sums up the concept as it is a Portuguese term without direct translation to English that means something like ‘from one end to the other’, relating to the country. Anyway, on to the wine.

This is their Alentejo experiment, doing something quite unusual with the Sauvignon Blanc grape. The wine is aged on the lees in 10-year-old 750-litre barrels for seven months, before a couple of years’ bottle-ageing, resulting in something quite unlike any Sauvignon Blanc I have tried.

There are none of the tell-tale aromas of the variety we would find in New World Sauvignon Blanc or, for that matter, the subtlety and elegance we would expect from Pouilly-Fumé or other French whites from the same variety.

This is a bold and structured white, golden yellow in colour with heady aromas of mature white fruits and candied lemon, great acidity and freshness in the mouth, with a very long and dry finish. Outstanding and excellent value for money, I will certainly be on the lookout for more Lés-a-Lés wines from around the country.

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