By PATRICK STUART [email protected]
The Covela winery, technically in the Minho region but actually on the northern bank of the Douro River, was abandoned for three years, resulting in what was in my humble opinion one of the very best white wine producers in Portugal disappearing from the market.
The previous owner lost control of the winery, an unjust and sad situation that could well have been avoided had it not been for greedy and corrupt bankers, but that’s another story. What matters to us wine lovers is that Covela is now finally back with the same oenologist, Rui Cunha, and new owners.
So far from the 2012 harvest, just two wines have been produced under the redesigned Covela label – the Edição Nacional White made entirely from the Portuguese Avesso grape and this reinterpretation of Covela Escolha.
The old Escolha was made predominantly from Chardonnay (unoaked) with a touch of Gerwurtzraminer; adding light floral notes, it was a great wine and Rui Cunha has done it again with this new blend, made from Avesso and Chardonnay with a few unrevealed varieties adding to the tapestry, amongst them once again the Gerwurtz.
The wine drinks surprisingly like a good Chablis in terms of mouthfeel, with steely minerality and solid acidity but more exotic fruit on the nose, which combine to justify the price tag of around €15.
The Escolha is unoaked but gains body and complexity from around four months on the lees ahead of bottling.
I’m looking forward to trying the new Colheita Selecionada label when it is released. If it’s anything like the old one, it should be an oak-aged white of great depth, concentration and complexity, capable of taking the place of a red in many a food pairing situation.
I also have fond memories of the old Palheta, a full bodied and almost red rosé that use to be produced at Covela. A new rosé is also in the pipeline as are oaked and un-oaked reds.
Promotional price at Apolónia supermarket
(valid May 16 to May 22): €13.95 (retail price €14.95)