Alentejo producer João Portugal Ramos ventured north some years ago taking over a vineyard up in Monção to produce his own take on Alvarinho. Over the last few years I had tried his Alvarinho Reserva but I had not until now sampled the mainstream Alvarinho or his recently launched Alvarinho Bruto natural sparkling wine.
These two wines are a clear sign that João Portugal Ramos is giving the local vinho verde boys a run for their money when it comes to high quality Alvarinho.
The standard Alvarinho 2016 currently on sale, usually €9.95 at Apolónia (now on special offer at €7.95), compares favourably to any of the big name Alvarinhos at a similar price.
This is a lush and fruity wine, fully expressing the typical citric and tropical fruits of the variety on the nose with good structure and acidity in the mouth.
What impressed me most, however, was the sparkler, a natural brut with just 1g per litre of residual sugar. The wine was partially barrel fermented and aged on the lees before the second fermentation and another 20 months on the lees on the bottle.
On the nose, it is bone dry with green apple and floral notes, full yet intensely fresh in the mouth with a clean and dry finish. €19.95 at Apolónia.
By Patrick Stuart