The Lisbon wine producing region, to the north of the capital, as I have said in this column more than once before, is one of the most exciting in the country these days.
Above all, the producers stand out for producing wines that are quite different and express their terroire better than most.
When I wrote my series of articles last year on foreign grape varietals made here in Portugal, my chardonnay article was perhaps the weakest. What I found, scouring the shelves of Apolónia and other supermarkets here in the Algarve were mostly over-oaked wines, much in the style of those that have given not only Chardonnay a bad name but gone as far as tarnishing the reputation of great wine producing countries like Australia.
Chardonnay of course is one of the great white wine grapes – the ingredient of all Chablis and the backbone of Champagne.
This wine, from Quinta de Chocapalha, is the best example I have yet found in Portugal of an un-oaked Chardonnay.
Made much in the style of Chablis, it is characterised by a subtle nose with hints of honey and citric notes but above all by the steely minerality we would associate with Chablis.
This 2011 I picked up at Apolonia Galé (€9.95) last weekend was one of the last few on the shelf and the two years of bottle-ageing have already added a touch of complexity.
There is enough acidity there for this wine to age for a good few years, but I am looking forward to trying the 2012.
By PATRICK STUART [email protected]