An unusual claypot white from the Alentejo

Claypot wines, or vinhos da talha as they are known in Portugal, love them or hate them are here to stay. More and more producers are experimenting with the use of clay vessels as opposed to steel vats or wooden barrels and the results are interesting.

Of course, this is how wines were originally made and it is a method that never actually died out. Here in Portugal, especially in the Alentejo, a few die-hard producers hung onto the technique, but only over the past 10 years or so have we started to see modern wineries introducing claypot wines to their portfolios.

This wine, from the town of Vila Alva in the Alentejo, is actually the resurrection of an old claypot winery that operated for some 30 years until it closed in 1990. Recently reinvented by descendants of the original winemaker “Mestre” Daniel and named in his honour, this is a big and full-bodied white made from Antão Vaz, Perrum and Roupeiro grapes.

The wine is unfiltered, fermenting and ageing on the lees in the claypots, resulting in a wine that throws an unusually high amount of fine (and drinkable) white sediment. For those not daunted by the appearance a cloudy glass of wine, it can be served with the sediment well mixed in. But if left in the bottom of the bottle, the last glass will resemble a cloudy minestrone soup. It is best to let the bottle stand for an hour or so to let the sediment settle and then carefully decanter.

The colour of the wine is a deep coppery yellow, with notes of almonds, white fruits and wet stones on the nose, dry and full bodied in the mouth with firm tannic structure and excellent acidity, extremely long finish.

This is an interesting food wine, a perfect partner to a good cheese board and ideally suited to accompany a rich fish, seafood soup or stew. €19.95 at Apolónia.

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