Wine reviews: three Portuguese whites worth investing in
There's more to the country's wine output than port and vinho verde, with 250 indigenous grape varieties which winemakers are starting to exploit better
In the world of wine, Portugal remains relatively undiscovered. It is famed for its fortified wine, port, but dry white and red wines are not commonplace. In Hong Kong, the choice of Portuguese wines remains meagre. Wine lovers in the city traditionally sourced Portuguese wines in Macau. In recent years, there has been a gradual trickle of Portuguese wines into Hong Kong.
Portugal is a treasure trove of indigenous grape varieties — there are about 250. Most are grown only in Portugal.
For wine lovers looking for something other than chardonnay, merlot and cabernet sauvignon, this is a great place to start searching for some hidden gems.
Jancis Robinson, MW, says: "Portugal has some first-class raw materials and is increasingly demonstrating the will and skill with which to transform them into exportable wines."
Quinta da Calcada Reserva 2013
Made from a blend of alvarinho and loureiro grapes. Mineral, grapefruit notes. Medium body, with balanced acidity supported by some spicy tannin in the background. A more serious food wine with some length and complexity. HK$158
Quinta da Calcada Porta da Calcada, Vinho Verde 2013
Vinho Verde DOC is Portugal's largest wine region, situated in the northwestern part of the country. Vinho verde wines are made from a blend of indigenous white grape varieties. Quinta da Calcada Vinho Verde is a blend of loureiro (known for its aromatics and floral notes), arinto (for mineral and apple notes), azal (which is shy with its aromatics but adds acidity and structure) and trajadura (which adds a steely backbone). It is fermented in stainless steel tanks to retain vibrant primary fruit flavours. Fresh citrus, peach and mineral notes. Light bodied with crisp acidity, a touch of fizz and lower alcohol levels. Simple and easy drinking. HK$100
Monte d'Oiro Madrigal Viognier 2013
Monte d'Orio, meaning hill of gold, is in Estremadura Alenquer, 50km north of Lisbon. The winery was founded in 1992, and owner Jose Bento dos Santos is a former chemical engineer and metal broker. He describes his wines as "designed to respect the personality of the terroir. Each wine thus has its own identity, always hiding a story, a culture, a legacy and a dream." Santos has taken an unconventional approach and planted syrah and viognier. The vines are "manicured" with severe pruning to reduce yields and attain more concentrated fruit. Restrained nose with apricot, floral notes. Opulent and velvety on the palate with juicy fruit, balanced acidity and a long finish. Shows classic viognier character. HK$268