Getting nostalgic about Alvarinho

High-quality varietal wines made from the Alvarinho grape in the Monção sub region of the Minho, in Portugal’s far north, have gained great recognition over recent years. Much of this is down to two producers: Anselmo Mendes and Soalheiro, who are almost entirely dedicated to this most noble of Portuguese white grapes.

They both produce superb wines covering varying price points and can truly take credit for exploring and promoting the potential of Alvarinho. But whilst I am a great fan of their wines, I am also critical of both these producers for releasing their wines before they are really ready to drink.

I was saddened at around this time last year to see Soalheiro launch their 2017, a wine that only over the last few months has started to shape up as the high-quality wine it is.

And this brings me to Nostalgia, a small vineyard of Alvarinho old vines in Monção, which is part of the Lua Cheia group, a Douro-based winemaker that has branched out to various other regions of Portugal, always focusing on old vines and traditional production techniques.

Nostalgia is just that, a wine made using naturally occurring yeasts, fermented and aged on the lees and allowed to develop for at least a year in the bottle before releasing.

My local Intermarché supermarket (Carvoeiro/Lagoa) still carries the 2015. It costs around €10, pitching it at around the same price as the main labels of Soalheiro and Anselmo Mendes. Having just last week opened a bottle of Soalheiro 2015 that I have had stored at home, I would say that the aged Soalheiro was a more impressive wine, but then this 2015 Nostalgia is undoubtedly drinking much better right now than the 2017 Soalheiro that is currently available.

By Patrick Stuart
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