These two wines, priced at €13.95 and €22.95 at Apolónia (Royal Palmeira and Quinta da Pedra respectively) are something of a departure from the norm when it comes to vinho verde.
Both are projects from Idealdrinks, a company with wineries in the Minho, Dão and Bairrada regions founded by the Monaco-based Portuguese businessman Carlos Dias who created the luxury watch brand Roger Dubuis, selling out in 2010 to the Richemont Group.
He invested heavily in the Portuguese wine business, acquiring vineyards and building state-of-the-art wineries with no expense spared on recruiting the expertise of leading Portuguese and international winemakers.
Dias himself no doubt had more than a little influence in the bottle designs, exercising some of the creative talent from his years as a watch designer to come up with these elegant and unusual bottles. This shelf-appeal, however, is just part of the story when it comes to reinventing vinho verde.
Quinta da Pedra Alvarinho is something quite unique, a wine that matures for a full two years before being released onto the market; six months in oak, six months in steel and a year in the bottle.
The oak is all but undetectable on the nose where subtle notes of caramelised lemon mingle with pineapple and the freshness of green apples.
In the mouth, it is creamy in texture without being claggy, a wine of true elegance that easily justifies the price tag.
Royal Palmeira is altogether a different wine, produced in this case from the traditional vinho verde grape Loureiro at another Minho vineyard owned by Idealdrinks.
Here, the wine is fermented on the fine lees, something unheard of with Loureiro which is usually vinified as a light and slightly gassy wine in the typical vinho verde style. What we have here is an interesting expression of the grape, with exuberant notes of tropical fruits and fresh limes on the nose, great freshness in the mouth and a lingering finish of oranges and lemons.
By PATRICK STUART [email protected]