Wine of the Month: A real new-wave Vinho Verde for Real Wine Month
Wine and travel writer Chris Boiling continues his quest to find Brighton’s most interesting wines. This month, for ‘Real Wine Month’, he discovered a scrumptious Portuguese wine in a new independent wine shop in the Seven Dials district.
Wine of the month: Aphros Loureiro 2014
Winery: Quinta Casal do Paço
Winemakers: Pedro Bravo, José Carvalheira
Grape variety: Loureiro
Tasted: At home
Bought in: Seven Cellars, 104a Dyke Road, Brighton, BN1 3JD
The Portuguese wine style and region Vinho Verde is undergoing a makeover, and this wine shows its new face. The old face was fresh, slightly fizzy, relatively low in alcohol (9-10%), and cheap. This is a much more serious wine, with richer, more concentrated flavours and higher alcohol content (11.5%).
Typically wines from the wet northwest of Portugal are a blend of indigenous white grapes, such as Azal, Trajadura, Avesso, Arinto/Pedernã and the most widely-planted variety, Loureiro. Until recently the only variety used for varietal wines in the region was its star grape, Albariño (Alvarinho across the border in Spain).
Now more and more winemakers are making single varietal wines using the other grapes. I’m not too keen on the Azals I’ve tried so far but I love the Viognier-ish Avessos from Anselmo Mendes, Casa de Vila Nova and especially Quinta de Gomariz.
There are some good Loureiros, too, from producers in its birthplace, in the Lima Valley. Adega Ponte de Lima has the most serious, most intensely-flavoured Loureiro I have tried so far, called Loureiro Colheita Seleccionada. But it may not be to everyone’s taste and it’s not yet available in Brighton.
The one I have selected for this month’s Wine of the Month will probably please more people. It’s made from biodynamically-farmed grapes, it has lovely citrus fruit and rose aromas, flavours that are as refreshing as a fruit cocktail made from lemon, lime and grapefruit, and a lingering, honeyed finish.
Loureiro is Portuguese for ‘laurel’, and many Vinho Verde wines can have aromas of laurel leaves, linden, orange and acacia blossom. For me, though, they are more appley and peachy.
The Aphros Loureiro 2014 comes from Vasco Croft who quit his job as an architect in Lisbon to revive the family estate, 20ha of vineyards near the river Lima. Last year he opened a new cellar and turned the old one into a ‘medieval cellar’ where he could make artisanal wines without the use of electricity. These include a Loureiro fermented in an egg-shaped concrete tank and a ‘pet nat’ sparkler (see December’s Wine of the Month to discover more about ‘pet nat’ wines).
I found the Aphros Loureiro 2014 in a new wine shop in Seven
Dials. Seven Cellars opened at Christmas and is owned by wine-loving friends Louise
Oliver and Anna Lowe. Louise, a wine business graduate from Plumpton College,
has hired other former Plumpton students to serve in the Dyke Road shop, so
their knowledge of wine is excellent. They have tasted most of the wines, beers
and ciders on offer, too. The wines range in price from £6.95 to £130 and come
from countries as diverse as Austria, Hungary, South Africa, New Zealand,
Chile, USA and, of course, France. There is also a good selection of wines made
here in Sussex.
Louise says they do have a good selection of organic, vegan and biodynamic wines but these, like this Loureiro, are “on the more normal side of natural wines”.
The Aphros Loureiro 2014 would pair well with fish dishes, shellfish, sushi, salads and citrus fruit cocktails!
Chris Boiling is the editor of new online wine magazine ywine.press and runs wine tastings for hens, stags and private parties in Brighton.