I wouldn’t be given to gushing – occasional verbosity I’ll concede to – but sometimes, not often and always when I least expect it, I am simply left bereft of how to proceed next. Wow just about gets there, and that’s all I can say by way of introduction…
A & D Wines comprises three main vineyard sites in the Vinho Verde region – Quinta De Santa Teresa, Casa do Arrabalde where their viticulture story began, and Quinta de Espinhosos. Quinta De Santa Teresa is a 33-hectare plot, situated in the Baiao sub-region bordering Douro Valley, where it shares its neighbour’s characteristic terraced vineyards and chalky granitic soils. Casa do Arrabalde, a family farm for generations, is where the art of viticulture and winemaking stems from, and Quinta dos Espinhosos offers a unique microclimate and is a formative part of A&D Wines more modern approach to viticulture and sustainable agriculture.
Monologo Sauvignon Blanc
It is generally hard to find Portuguese productions of Sauvignon that tipify the varietal – often warmer climatic influence, longer ripening times or unsuitable soil types leave us with overly aromatic, unctious offerings. It is a nut not often cracked by Portuguese wine makers. A & D though, terroir driven and focused on pure expressions of the varietal’s natural characteristics, have done a fabulous job. Good sun exposure, diurnal range, single vineyard site and, most importantly, actively pursued bio-diversity in the vineyard, are all key elements in this expressive but refined Sauvignon, herbaceous notes from abundant rosemary nearby adds a green and leafy element to a fruit-driven white. One of the few really good expressions of the varietal I’ve seen here. €8.50
Sustainably made, single vineyard, organically grown and unoaked Chardonnay. A focused exercise in expressing the potential of a vineyard site and varietal combined. One of the most enjoyable offerings of this once foreign but fast becoming native varietal. No overworking of the grape, heavy handed influence of oak, just a sumptuous synergy of fruit, acidity and minerality. Fresh and zesty, but more Pink Lady apples and underripe pear, than the expected Granny Smiths. Obvious but welcome lees ageing and batonage add texture and weight to an already mouth filling white. I rarely return to a wine merchant two days in a row for the same thing but now I will happily return again and again for this never feeling I’ve wasted the journey. €8
Indegenous to Minho, this aromatic native is taken to expressive new heights through meticulous, sustainable vineyard management, a keen appreciation for the varietals natural characteristics, and careful but noticeable use of oak. A nutty, sandalwood element follows on from a lychee and papaya fruit foreground, then smokey notes with the generous roll of a rich and round white, full of acidity-driven bite and bright primary fruit. Of the three Monologo wines mentioned, this is probably the most gastronomically-driven wine, and would certainly sing a different tune with food. Strong flavoured fish, fatty meats, a sunny day and some secretos on the grill. €8
Pintado (painted, to take ink, represented by means of painting, full figured or perfect) has the softest hues that no maceration can imbue. Pintado is a blend of Touriga Nacional and Vinhao made from the ‘tears’ or first press of the red varietals, the gentle and almost imperceptible colour extracted from the skins as the juice off the red grapes runs over their tinting skins. What a beautifully elegant way to extract what you wish to achieve. It speaks volumes to the level of care, attention to detail and non-conventional way A & D approach their process. This is not a poolside blush, it is more considered in its character as much as its production. Red summer fruit, infused with body and persistence – think strawberries and cream but nothing sweet. Dry, complex, and considered; soft brush strokes of5095
Singular is a fine example of what is in my mind set when perched atop my soap box and pontificating that “not all Vinho Verde is fizzy nor is it green”. Such misconceptions are commonplace and fall well within the purview of the -non-Chardonnay-drinking Chablis enthusiast.
Vinho Verde is a wine-producing region, Portugal’s largest one at that. Stretching from the boundaries of the Douro valley, to the Atlantic coast and all the way to Spain, this vast swathe of vineyards, terroirs and microclimates is not the sum of its largest exports. A huge shift to developed, mature, more complex styles of white has been ongoing for some time.
Singular is a well- woven tapestry of old vines, indegenous varietals, modern wine making and environmentally conscious practises. It is oakey, opulent, complex and confounding, a careful selection of parcels and varietals from the estate’s best grapes. At just two years old, this wine is young, full of youthful exuberance, but matured by older vineyard selections, careful integration of barrel and bottle age. It is a fantastic example of just how serious an endeavour wine making in the north has become. Ready to drink, preferably alongside food, grilled meats, fatty fish, hell – throw some pig cheek at it and see who comes off the worse for wear. But should you by design or oversight leave bottles to lie for years to come, it will still likely drink as if it’s young. €10
There is not enough can be said for a production so focused on cultivating biodiversity in the vineyards, sustainable vineyard management, largely organic production, and minimal intervention. Throw in the nation’s best labelling and bloody good wines to boot, and boxes ticked, cellar filled, plenty of white and ice. What, folks, is not to like?
The wines listed here from A&D are available for next day delivery from Tribulum at Home.
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Words: Justin O’Hanlon