Wine Reviews: Alentejo White Wines

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 08-27-2022

On something like a weekly basis, I find myself daydreaming: Wow, I wish I were back in Portugal right now.

It’s one of my favorite places in the world to visit. I love the epic coastline and surf culture, the food, the welcoming people, the history and architecture… and, of course, the wine. And, as long-time readers may recall, I’m a big fan of the diverse, inexpensive, exciting wines from the Alentejo region. Known mostly for their red wines, the white wines (branco) have kept me coming back for years.

The diversity of microclimates, soils and winemaking methods in Alentejo give the adventurous consumer something of a kid-in-the-candy-store feeling – there’s just so much high-quality stuff out there. The wines in this report do a good job introducing what’s available.

Indigenous grapes abound here, and the exact blends of each specific wine can get dizzying, with grapes like Arinto, Antao Vaz, Verdelho, Siria (which I didn’t even know was a grape until recently) and others. But this also provides growers and winemakers with the freedom to craft blends that harness the best attributes of their individual parts. If you haven’t yet delved into the white wines of this historic region before, perhaps some of these wines (and their very attractive price points) will provide some inspiration.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted single-blind (except for the rosé).

2021 Herdade do Esporão “Monte Velho” Branco Portugal, Alentejano, Vinho Regional Alentejano
SRP: $12
The aromas blend honey, raw almond and white tea with these chalky, salty vibes, over top of lemons and ruby red grapefruit. Lovely waxy texture (that Antao Vaz creaminess is always great), but the acidity is zesty and lively as well, and the balance is really nice. Creamy yellow apples, lemons and white peach, the fruit is laced with complex notes of honey, chalk dust, salt brine, with some graham cracker and bread crumbs, backed up with some minerals and stony elements. This wine makes me want to sit on a Portuguese beach all day. Antao Vaz, Roupeiro and Perrum and others. Esporao rocks, and this is one of the best white wine values out there, in my opinion. (90 points IJB)

2018 Adega de Portalegre “Conventual” Reserva Branco Portugal, Alentejano, Alentejo, Portalegre
SRP: $25
Aromas of white peaches, honeydew and pineapple pop from the glass, backed up by sea spray, crushed seashells and honeysuckle. Light- to medium-bodied (12%) with a brisk and zippy appeal and solid complexity. Yellow apples and kiwi fruit meld very well with white flowers, honey, perfume, flinty-chalky notes. There’s a lot going here, and what a great seafood bistro sort of wine. A great intro to the wines of Portalegre (the northernmost subregion of Alentejo), this is a blend of Arinto, Fernao Pires, Siria and Bical. (90 points IJB)

2020 Adega Cooperativa de Redondo “Porta da Ravessa Special Edition” Portugal, Alentejano, Vinho Regional Alentejano
SRP: $15
Aromas of honey, graham cracker and salted almond over top a tropical mélange of papaya, lime juice and tropical flowers. The palate shows a pleasant juiciness, lip-smacking acidity, lovely depth and creaminess. The yellow pear, apple and papaya fruit is rich but lively, and topped in complex notes of oyster shell, whipped butted, saline and white flowers. The depth and complexity at this price point is really something. This exceptional value would be ideal with a classic arroz do mar. A blend of Verdelho, Arinto and Antao Vaz. (91 points IJB)

2021 Torre de Palma Arinto-Alvarinho Portugal, Alentejano, Vinho Regional Alentejano
SRP: $40
Peachy keen on the nose with limes and papaya as well, along with a plethora of orange blossom, dandelion and honeysuckle. The palate is really lively and bright, like a streak of racy minerals and perfume, with a fruit bowl of papaya, lime, lemons and kiwi. Spritely and vibrant, but shows depth of texture and flavor for sure, the tones of white pepper, floral perfume, chalk dust and breezy meadow add a lot of complexity. Wow, this has a ton going on, the tropical/floral goodness of Alvarinho and that bright zippiness from Arinto, and I love it. (91 points IJB)

2021 Herdade do Esporão Colheita Branco Portugal, Alentejano, Alentejo
SRP: $18
Aromas of honeydew melon, lemons and orange peel, on top of white and yellow flowers, creamy honey, with sea salt and waxy tones. The creamy depth is really nice, balanced wonderfully with lively acidity, honeyed but zippy. Lemon and green apple fruit make for a crunchy feel, backed up with honeyed white tea, sea salt, flowers galore, the brisk-nervy atmosphere blends really well with the textured, expressive vibes. Another great value. Antao Vaz, Viosinho, Alvarinho, Vermentino and other grapes, fermented in concrete and aged four months on the lees. (90 points IJB)

2020 João Portugal Ramos “Marquês de Borba” Colheita Branco Portugal, Alentejano, Alentejo
SRP: $14
A bright aromatic display of lemon zest, green and yellow apples, over some honeysuckle, floral perfume and mint. The palate is medium-bodied with a zesty, tart appeal and flavors of grapefruit and lime. Zippy and chalky with elements of hay, seashells, minerals and sliced cucumber. A seafood and salad-friendly wine for sure, with an oceanic, easygoing appeal. Arinto with some Antao Vaz and Viognier. (88 points IJB)

2020 Herdade do Rocim “Mariana” Branco Portugal, Alentejano, Vinho Regional Alentejano
SRP: $16
The nose pops with peaches, orange slices, cantaloupe, along with a fascinating mix of cut flower stems, dandelion, celery, daisies and honeycomb. The palate has a delightfully waxy texture, but it stays light on its feet with a level of precision that’s impressive. White peaches, cantaloupe and lemon mix well with tones of honey, freshly baked bread, some floral perfume, and some saline and talc elements. Long finish. I visited this winery year ago and fell in love with their wines (especially those aged in amphorae) and have a been a fan ever since. Wines like this are why. (90 points IJB)

2021 Herdade do Esporão Monte Velho Rosé Portugal, Alentejano, Vinho Regional Alentejano
SRP: $12
Medium copper color. The spiciness on the nose is really attractive, with these tobacco, mint, white pepper and celery seed notes to accent the tart white cherry and spiced cranberry relish scents. The palate sports nice richness, spritely acidity, along with juicy white peach and tart cranberry fruit. The notes of daisies, rose hips, celery seed and mint add a refreshing, floral, spicy complexity to this delicious pink. Solid value, per usual, from this line of wines. Touriga Nacional, Aragonez, Tinta Caiada and Arinto. (89 points IJB)

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