Portugal has a well-chronicled reputation of producing fine wine. For many wine aficionados, it’s a history that’s inexorably linked with the fortified wines of Porto and Madeira. Thanks to its vast array of indigenous grape varietals, Portugal produces many well-made and distinctive still wines too.
Located in the historic Minho province in the north of Portugal, the Vinho Verde DOC is synonymous with the famed “green wine” produced in the region. Vinho Verde makes a solid, uncomplicated quaffing wine for pairing with the Portuguese version of tapas, Petiscos e Doces. Its style is light and crisp and often has a noticeable carbon dioxide spritz.
Traditional Vinho Verde is typically made from the local Alvarinho and Loureiros varieties. However, there’s a handful of Vinho Verde producers intent on making a more substantial white wine from the aromatic Avesso grape.
The history of the Quinta de Covela estate reaches back to the 1500s and the old castle ruins of the Casa de Covela. During much of the 20th century the vineyards and winery were owned by Portugal’s most important film director, Manoel de Oliviera. Since 2011, Quinta de Covela has been in the hands of current owners Tony Smith and Marcelo Lima who oversee 18 hectares of vineyards planted primarily to native Portuguese varieties Avesso, Arinto and Touriga Nacional. Additionally, there are some parcels of Chardonnay, Viognier, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.
The winemaking team of Rui Cunha and Gonçalo Sousa Lopes implement wholly organic methods in both the vineyards and winery leading to impressive results in their finished wines.
Quinta de Covela Avesso Edicao Nacional ($15) is fermented in stainless steel vats with sur-lie aging for added richness. It is an elegant, complex Vinho Verde completely devoid of any CO2 spritz. Vibrant citrus and pear notes give way to an enticing floral nose, leading to a focused finished with a touch of minerality. An ideal wine to serve alongside grilled fish or paired with sushi and sashimi.
Jim Greeley, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits Wine & Spirits Supervisor
Follow me on Twitter @ABCWineJimG