A premium Portuguese white for Christmas
When Douro winemakers Quinta Nova set about creating Mirabilis (meaning ‘something wonderful’ in Latin), they set out with the clear objective of creating the Douro’s, and thereby Portugal’s, best white wine.
The inspiration comes from white Burgundy and specifically the great wines of Chassagne-Montrachet where the Chardonnay grape reaches its zenith. But here the grapes are the traditional Douro white varieties Viosinho and Gouveio mixed with other local grapes all from vineyards of 80 or more years old at some 500 metres of altitude.
The winemaking involves some serious barrel work with fermentation and ageing on the lees for nine months in mostly used French and Hungarian oak (only 35% of the oak is new).
The first vintage was launched in 2011 and I recently tasted both the 2012 and 2013 vintages. I found the oak of the 2013 to be a little intense on the nose but the additional year of bottle ageing on the 2012 sees the oak already well integrated.
It is still early days to see if we really do have Portugal’s greatest white wine here – the producer recommends bottle ageing of up to 10 years, but four or five years should be enough time for it to show its real potential.
What we do have here is a wine of great complexity, with ripe white fruit and vanilla notes on the nose and a full creamy texture in the mouth with layers of flavours and strong minerality resulting in a very long, fresh and clean finish.
To drink now, this is a white that will provide splendid company to roast turkey, duck or goose at the Christmas table but will make an even better gift for a wine lover to lay it up for a few years. €34.95 at Apolónia.
By PATRICK STUART [email protected]