When we think of high quality vinho verde these days, we tend to focus on the Alvarinho grape, but the Loureiro variety is every bit as important to the Vinho Verde region, especially when making the traditional style of light, low alcohol and slightly effervescent vinho verde.
One producer, however, stands out from the rest when it comes to varietal wines made from Loureiro and, most impressive of all, is this Quinta do Ameal Escolha, priced at around €17.
The wine is made from organic grapes from old vines, carefully selected from the best plots at optimum maturity, resulting in a fuller-bodied and more flavoursome wine with excellent acidity.
It is fermented and aged with battonage in used French oak barrels, but the oak is so well integrated as to not be almost undetectable.
The oak has resulted in some very soft hints of vanilla on the nose, but the overriding aromas are of orange blossom and citric fruits. In the mouth, the wine is well rounded and firm with wonderful freshness and a lingering finish.
All of this with just 11% alcohol is quite some achievement and, surprisingly, this wine is well known for its bottle-ageing potential. The 2014 shown here is drinking very well but it is worth looking out for vintages a few years older.
One of the great Portuguese white wines, it is well worth the price tag, pairs well with oven-roast fish, cataplana and even white meat dishes.
By Patrick Stuart