Just outside the Alentejo town of Vidigueira, long famous for its white wine, lies the Ribafreixo estate. This winery represents one of the larger investments in modern winemaking to have taken place over recent years in the Alentejo – a project that started in 2007 and reached fruition in 2012 with the opening of an impressive new adega.
Today, the winery is producing well over one million bottles a year from 114 hectares of vineyards. From the outset, this project has practised sustainable and integrated agriculture and winemaking, something of a “halfway house” (as they claim in their marketing) between traditional and organic methods. The wines are also all vegan certified, meaning that no animal or egg extracts are used for clarification.
There was a tasting on earlier this week at Apolónia Lagoa, as part of the wine festival that finishes this coming Sunday, and I was particularly impressed with their white wines.
Most impressive of all for me, considering value for money, is their excellent Gaudio Verdelho, usually priced at €6.49 and down by 30% to €4.69 for the festival, a wonderfully fresh and well-balanced wine displaying the typical tropical fruit of the Verdelho grape.
Moving up the range a little, but still offering very good value for money, are two rather more complex whites; Connections Chenin Blanc and Pato Frio Grande Escolha Antão Vaz.
The Chenin Blanc (usually priced at €11.95 and down to €8.95 for the festival) is one of the better Portuguese Chenins I have tried. The wine is un-oaked, clean and fresh but full and rounded in the mouth with mature white fruit and floral notes.
The Grande Escolha Antão Vaz is something quite different altogether. Made from 45-year-old vines, fermented and aged in French oak, this is a rich and complex wine, the oak well integrated, resulting in spicy balsamic and white fruit notes on the nose, good acidity in the mouth with citric character and a long lingering finish. Usually priced at €11.95, down by 30% to €7.99.