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Soalheiro, Alvarinho Primeiras Vinhas 2018
Soalheiro are rightly regarded as the top producers of Alvarinho in Portugal. This wine is made from some of their oldest vines and has even more intensity and richness than its younger sibling. It's as though all the best qualities of their regular Alvarinho have been enhanced but in a harmonious way. Ripe apricot and peach on the nose, a full and textural mouthfeel, refreshing but integrated acidity, spice and mineral notes and a really long finish. Try with seared scallops and Black Pudding.
The Quinta de Soalheiro is to be found about as far north as you can go in Portugal, in the sub region of Moncao e Melgaco. They are almost in sight of the Spanish border and are a good distance from the sea so they get less of the downpours so frequent in this part of Iberia. Organically grown alvarinho grapes are cultivated on 15 hectares of vineyards on granitic slopes at 100 to 200 metres altitude, sheltered by a range of mountains but with wonderful exposure to the sun. Indeed, the name Soalheiro is derived from the Portuguese for 'sunny place'. Joao Antonio Cerdeira is an oenologist with experience of working in Burgundy and he planted the first alvarinho vines here in 1974, lured by the special microclimate and before the region was even a recognised wine growing area. In 1982 he released the first Soalheiro wine. Today the estate is run by his sons Luis and Joao, with the help of their sister Maria, who make the most of the now mature vines with low yields and expert winemaking. They are widely regarded as the most serious grower of alvarinho in Portugal.