Soalheiro Alvarinho 2019
Melgaco e Moncao
92 pts Robert Parker
The 2019 Alvarinho, the so-called unoaked "classico," is dry (three grams of residual sugar and 6.9 grams of total acidity) and comes in at 12.5% alcohol. On paper, this has a somewhat crisper demeanor than the 2018. Due to more cool days in 2019 and a harvest in the first week of September, the winery said the acidity was slightly higher with lower pH, and in their opinion, that contributed to the profile of Soalheiro. Comparing this to the Granit, as always, leads you to two completely different wines. The Granit seems lighter, tenser and more energetic. It is precise and focused. This does all that too, but the balance with the fruit is different—often, I say better, but not this year. The expression of fruit here is pure Alvarinho, but the Granit is no slouch. This Classico is ripe but lifted, though. It's pretty tasty in its youth too. Like the Granit, though, this might be better next year—although this is more approachable. They both will age well, as the winery's track record in general has frequently demonstrated over the years. (I still like to stay conservative in the drinking windows. You might not think 11 years is conservative for a Vinho Verde, but here it might well be.) This looks terrific this year, and it's a typically super value.
The workhorse ‘Alvarinho’, a wine that over-delivers in spades. Steel fermented and bottled, this is a clear, naked expression of the Avlarinho grape and its Melgaco terroir. Drink this now or wait for a few years. It can take some cellar time in stride, but honestly, it’s too delicious now to think of such patience! If you love new world Chardonnay WITHOUT OAK, Australian Semillon, fresher styled Viognier/Condrieu, or even the cousin wines from Galicia in Spain also made from Albarino (same grape) this is a wine you will love.
Melgaço, the most northern wine region of Portugal, is protected by the surrounding mountains that allow a perfect marriage between rainfall, temperature and the number of hours of sunshine needed for the better maturation of the Alvarinho grapes. This climate characteristic during ripening is frequently associated with the microclimate of Monção and Melgaço, where hot days alternate with cold nights, allowing for the maintenance of a fresh and fruity aromas with an acidity that is present but moderate, just the way we like it for the Soalheiro.
Vinification the grapes are harvested manually in boxes of small capacity and carried to the cellar in a short space of time. After the pressing and the before fermentation with controlled temperature, the must was decanted during 48 hours at low temperature. The objective of vinification is to obtain an Alvarinho Soalheiro that concentrates the quality of the grapes and that allows to a good evolution in the bottle. Fermentation is in steel tank, with a short aging period and then bottled.
Grape Variety Alvarinho