A cooler than usual year, with perfect harvest conditions. Deceptively pale, indeed almost water-white, yet brimming with tropical fruit in the flamboyant nose and palate. Juicy, perfumed pineapple, passionfruit, lychee and nectarine cut with tangier greengage bite makes for a lively, persistent palate, with an edge of fresh fennel to the finish. Breezy, but concentrated. Vivid and very intense, with lipsmacking acidity. (SA)
Maria João Cerdeira tends to the vines while her brother, Luís, makes this wine, a blend from their own parcels in Melgaço as well as from neighboring vines they help farm. The Cerdeiras continue to release a broad range of more specialized alvarinhos, from old vines, from high-altitude sites or from sulfur-free winemaking. Their flagship bottling is a blend of estate and purchased fruit, and this 2019 is the best version we’ve tasted in recent years. It captures their placement between the mountains and the sea, where the Minho River carries winds inland from the Atlantic. Bright and fresh when first poured, the wine’s flavors of lemon pith and crunchy apple extend with air, gaining depth and length while holding the cool, airy feel of a summer rain.
The 2019 Alvarinho, the so-called unoaked "classico," is dry (three grams of residual sugar and 6.9 grams of total acidity) and comes in at 12.5% alcohol. On paper, this has a somewhat crisper demeanor than the 2018. Due to more cool days in 2019 and a harvest in the first week of September, the winery said the acidity was slightly higher with lower pH, and in their opinion, that contributed to the profile of Soalheiro. Comparing this to the Granit, as always, leads you to two completely different wines. The Granit seems lighter, tenser and more energetic. It is precise and focused. This does all that too, but the balance with the fruit is different—often, I say better, but not this year. The expression of fruit here is pure Alvarinho, but the Granit is no slouch. This Classico is ripe but lifted, though. It's pretty tasty in its youth too. Like the Granit, though, this might be better next year—although this is more approachable. They both will age well, as the winery's track record in general has frequently demonstrated over the years. (I still like to stay conservative in the drinking windows. You might not think 11 years is conservative for a Vinho Verde, but here it might well be.) This looks terrific this year, and it's a typically super value. (MS)
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