Posts Tagged : Quinta de Soalheiro

Soalheiro – Alma Mater

Text João Pedro de Carvalho | Translation Bruno Ferreira

A history that began in the 70s when João António Cerdeira with the support of his father, António Esteves Ferreira, planted the first vineyard of Alvarinho. And so, in 1982 at Quinta de Soalheiro was born the first Alvarinho brand in Melgaço, which is nowadays managed by Maria Palmira Cerdeira and her children. An endure that was done through the generations of the Cerdeira family. This was my first contact with Alvarinho, curiously with the Soalheiro Alvarinho 1994, at the time a young man. So is case to say that with the passing of time, after the affirmation, the consecration and at last the project consolidation, comes the time for breaking new ground and challenges with the launch of new wines.

These are new ways to understand and show the Alvarinho grape variety, the first approach was the Quinta de Soalheiro from 1999 or so. More recently came the Primeiras Vinhas followed by the Reserva. And even more recent are these two releases, of which one is a première and the other is the second vintage. Debuting we have the Soalheiro Alvarinho Granit 2015, the result of a specific selection from vines planted above 150 meters in granitic soils. The fermentation was made at a temperature above normal for white wines and in stainless steel with battonage on fine lees. The goal is to show the variety’s expression as well as soil’s expression in an austere, mineral and drier side. The highlight goes to the good exuberance with focus on fruit associated with Alvarinho, a very clean profile with great elegance. The palate is lined with fruit and a solid mineral background wrapped in dryness. A very precise and focused wine, another beautiful creation from this producer.

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Soalheiro Alvarinho Granit 2015 & Soalheiro TerraMatter 2015 – Photo by João Pedro de Carvalho | All Rights Reserved

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Soalheiro, first brand of Alvarinho in Melgaço – Photo by João Pedro de Carvalho | All Rights Reserved

In its second edition is the Soalheiro TerraMatter 2015, made with organically grown grapes, not subject to filtration, with the fruit being early harvested and partial malolactic in barrels of chestnut. Different and overwhelming thanks to its ability to immediately conquer us, both for the difference and the quality that is the hallmark of this house. Fantastic rendering of finesse, power and aromatic definition. There is no place for any kind of olfactory “massacre” in a focused and precise wine. Beautiful presence with still much to give, the time it lasts in the glass shows that. Dense, good volume in the mouth with elegance and freshness, with a slight sense of greasiness. A mineral palate creased in a background full of fruit flavor and freshness. In my opinion it’s better than 2014 and, as expected, it’s still very young so it will be very interesting to follow its evolution, if there are enough bottles for that.

Contacts
Alvaredo . Melgaço
4960-010 Alvaredo
Tel: (+351) 251 416 769
Fax: (+351) 251 416 771
Email: quinta@soalheiro.com
Website: www.soalheiro.com

Soalheiro, the excellence of 2015

Text João Pedro de Carvalho | Translation Bruno Ferreira

This time I’m going to talk about the Alvarinho brand that I have most at home, and that for long years now has a reserved corner in the dark of my cellar. Many may wonder – Keep an Alvarinho in a wine cellar? Yes, it is true, I keep these and others because their conservation capacity is more than proven year after year, vintage after vintage. For those who look askance or are in doubt, I hope someday you have the good fortune of tasting one of the finest examples of the 90s or to not go back very far in time drinking a “simple” 2007 and, if it’s in a Magnum bottle even better.

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Soalheiro – Photo Provided by Quinta de Soalheiro | All Rights Reserved

The evolution or can I say perfection has been increasing visibly and the wines have known how to mirror that at every passing decade. Today more than ever the aromatic cleanness together with the characteristically energy of the local wines (Vinho Verde) makes the Soalheiro wines, among others, get another dimension when the time comes to get to the table. In this case, the genie of the lamp at the cellar is called António Luís Cerdeira and is the one who has been able to delight his legion of fans, in which I include myself, with his wines.

After the recent novelties that I already had the chance to report here, they will soon launch the Soalheiro Granit, as well as the new 2015 wines, from a vintage considered of excellence by the producer himself. In this case we’re talking about the youngest ranges, starting with the Soalheiro ALLO 2015, which results from a 50/50 blend of Alvarinho and Loureiro. From this junction is born a white wine full of flavors that invoke fruit and fresh flowers, is vibrant, very fragrant and at the same time light and fun, a wine that as soon as we realize the bottle is already over. It’s one of those whites that we like having at the table in a midsummer late afternoon to accompany some canapes or shellfishes au naturel.

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Soalheiro ALLO 2015 & Soalheiro Alvarinho 2015 – Photo by João Pedro de Carvalho | All Rights Reserved

The second wine is the inevitable Soalheiro Alvarinho 2015 that for me is now much better in this vintage than in the previous one. In this wine I can note more freshness with the fruit less exposed, less mature and more graceful. For the rest of the wine we get the Soalheiro profile, where the grape variety descriptors appear in a set that immediately wins us with clean and well laid out aromas, good intensity and showing tense, very fresh and with mineral austerity in the background. The fruit (passion fruit, lychee, citrus) merges with the floral notes, a very light and thin spoonful of honey that connects everything and balancing itself very well with the acidity of the wine. Good to drink now with grilled tiger prawns or can be kept for two years to have a pleasant surprise.

Contacts
Quinta de Soalheiro
4960-010 Alvaredo, Melgaço
Tel: (+351) 251 416 769
Fax: (+351) 251 416 771
Email: quinta@soalheiro.com
Website: www.soalheiro.com

Soalheiro, Oppaco and Terramatter

Text João Pedro de Carvalho | Translation Jani Dunne

The first parcel of a single hectare (2.5 acres) of Alvarinho grapes was born in Melgaço to João António Cerdeira, in 1974.  Time went by and, today, the Alvarinho grape variety covers 25 acres and is now supervised by the children: Luís and Maria João Cerdeira. For more than 25 years, this brand has been present at the table, maintaining this Alvarinho’s praiseworthy consistency and storing potential, vintage after vintage. As years ran by, several new products were made available to the customer. These wines are almost always seen as an experiment/innovation when first released onto the market, yet they shortly turn into great specimens. This happened with Primeiras Vinhas, and Reserva, which are both specimens that raise the Alvarinho variety to the levels of the best in Portugal.

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Quinta de Soalheiro – Photo Provided by Quinta de Soalheiro | All Rights Reserved

In fact, these wines need and even enjoy a little ageing time in the bottle; for example, the Alvarinho Soalheiro is one I only like to open after it ages for two years inside the bottle. However, if we look at vintages such as the 2007, or even earlier vintages, they confirm that we can forget about the Alvarinho Soalheiro for a while and it won’t be the slightest bit upset. Primeiras Vinhas and Reserva are on the same path, proving that the people at Adega do Soalheiro know how to educate a wine with such an intent.

The new facilities are where the creative process continues. New products echo from consumer to consumer and, for now, two new wines have just been released. The first, named Terramatter, is made with the 2014 vintage, an Alvarinho of an earlier vintage with no filtration and prone to sediment, whose ageing is done mostly in chestnut casks (traditional in the Minho region). The hue is slightly heavier than the house’s usual. There is something more closed-in about the notable aromatic precision we are used to in this producer in all his wines. It’s dense, of good volume on the mouth and with a lot of elegance and freshness, a slight silky sensation. A strong mineral aftertaste in the background in a tasteful and refreshing sip. In my view, it is still very young and it will be quite interesting to study its evolution; that is if they made enough bottles for that.

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Terramater Alvarinho 2014 – Photo by João Pedro de Carvalho | All Rights Reserved

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Oppaco Vinhão e Alvarinho red 2013 – Photo by João Pedro de Carvalho | All Rights Reserved

The other novelty is the first Soalheiro red, called Oppaco, a 2013 vintage based on the Vinhão and Alvarinho varieties. Once again, the keyword is innovation, because this is the first wine of the region made from a mix of red and white grapes. As a result, the wine combines the rusticity of the Vinhão variety, which is tamed by the freshness and elegance that the Alvarinho variety exhibits in Luís Cerdeira’s hands. A very refreshing blend altogether, clean and defined aromas, the rusticity is felt in a mix of very present fruit that reveals a very young and lively blend at the same time. Different and having a mind of its own, an original personality that requires food at an arm’s reach, from Galo de Cabidela [cockerel rice] to Rojões [pork cubes] à Moda do Minho [Minho-style].

Contacts
Alvaredo . Melgaço
4960-010 Alvaredo
Tel: (+351) 251 416 769
Fax: (+351) 251 416 771
Email: quinta@soalheiro.com
Website: www.soalheiro.com

Quinta de Soalheiro – Alvarinho Every Which Way

Text Sarah Ahmed

‘Scales fall from the eyes.’ It’s a dramatic phrase.  One which I use twice in this post so, dear reader, I felt a responsibility to investigate its origin.  Perhaps you already know that it comes from the Bible.  It is the tale of Saul, a persecutor of Christians who, having had his eyesight restored by a Christian, sees the light and converts to Christianity.

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Give me sunshine; Quinta de Soalheiro is a hotspot for Alvarinho – Photo by Sarah Ahmed | All Rights Reserved

My conversion to Vinho Verde, or more accurately, Alvarinho, was hardly a religious experience.  But I must admit that I have been somewhat evangelical about Alvarinho since I first discovered it some 12 years ago at the Annual Wines of Portugal Tasting.  It was an unusually hot, sunny London day – where better to slake my thirst than the Vinho Verde table?

As I took my first sip of Palacio da Brejoeira Alvarinho, I experienced my first scales fall from eyes moment.  I learned that Vinho Verde didn’t just come in the shape of off-dry, spritzy, commercial quaffers.  The Brejoeira was as elegant and refined as its delicate flute bottle.  And it knocked spots off the Rias Baixas Albariño I then sold at Oddbins!

My second scales fall from eyes moment?  It was a vertical tasting at Quinta de Soalheiro with winemaker Luis Cerdeira.  We tasted this, the first Alvarinho brand in Melgaço, going right back to the 1995 vintage. Another myth busted.  Not all Vinho Verde is, as we say in Hugh Johnson Pocket Wine, “DYA” (drink the youngest available). The ’95 (unoaked) was glorious.

Plant the right grape variety (Alvarinho) in the right place (Monçao e Melgaço) and it thrives, even after 14 years in bottle! Going forward, it will pay to check Vinho Verde labels for that all-important sub-region, Monçao e Melgaço, because plans are afoot to allow all Vinho Verde producers, not just those located in Monçao e Melgaço, to put Alvarinho on the front label.

What makes Monçao e Melgaço Alvarinho so special?  The clue is in the name of Cerdeira’s quinta.  Soalheiro means sunny and, located inland and sheltered from Atlantic influence, Monçao e Melgaço is Vinho Verde’s driest, sunniest region.  Maximum yields are lower too.  Which explains why this sub-region’s Alvarinhos have the concentration to age so brilliantly, not to mention great complexity and finesse.

I’m looking forward to sharing these ‘scales fall from eyes’ experiences in June at a mini-vertical tasting at Quinta de Soalheiro (and a visit to Palacio da Brejoeira), when I shall be  leading Blend-All-About-Wine’s premium tour of top notch Vinho Verde and Douro producers.  I hope you can join me.

Here are my notes on the latest releases from Quinta de Soalheiro.

Quinta de Soalheiro Alvarinho Bruto 2013 (Vinho Espumante IG Minho)

Pale yellow with quite sizeable bubbles.  Green mango to the nose which follows through on a round and creamy fruit salad palate, very fruit-focused.  It’s really quite vinous – more akin to a table wine than a classical sparkler.  Also because the bubbles are not very persistent, though the fruit is.  Still, I’m very sure Cerdeira is not going for a Champagne-a-like espumante.  Rather it’s about showcasing the titular Soalheiro/sunny fruit.  Yes, you think only Australia does sunshine in a glass, but this is it.  Really friendly, fun and moreish, it brought back memories of my first taste with Cerdeira over a long, convivial lunch at the Panorama restaurant.  It was the perfect companion for hearty portions of fresh crab dolloped on a slab of flavoursome, rustic bread.  This is for drinking!  12.5%

Quinta de Soalheiro Dócil 2014 (IG Minho)

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Quinta de Soalheiro Dócil 2014 – Photo by Sarah Ahmed | All Rights Reserved

This medium dry, round, textural Alvarinho reveals a cascade of flavours as it opens up, from syrupy poached pears, pear skin and lychee to passionfruit.  A slow, very gentle, pulse of acidity teases out the flavours.   Very different from racier dry styles – a slow mo[tion] Alvarinho. 9%, 48g/l residual sugar.

Quinta de Soalheiro Alvarinho 2014 (Monçao e Melgaço)

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Quinta de Soalheiro Alvarinho 2014 – Photo by Sarah Ahmed | All Rights Reserved

This was a tricky vintage on account of the rain at the end of September and in October, however Soalheiro had already harvested their fruit.   The measure of this wine’s concentration and complexity is how good it tastes on day two when honeysuckle, passionfruit and a green edge of hops jumps out of the glass.  Very expressive, and on the palate, which displays very succulent passionfruit, lychee and white peach.  With crisp, persistent acidity to the finish, it has great appeal for lovers of New Zealand’s powerful Sauvignon Blancs.12.5%

Quinta de Soalheiro Primeiras Vinhas Alvarinho 2013 (DOC Monçao e Melgaço)

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Quinta de Soalheiro Primeiras Vinhas Alvarinho 2013 – Photo by Sarah Ahmed | All Rights Reserved

‘Primeiras Vinhas’ denotes that this, one of my favourite Alvarinhos, is sourced from Soalheiro’s oldest vines (+30 years old).  In an excellent, slow ripening year (with more winter rain than usual and a very dry and hot July and August but cold nights) it is a lovely wine, multi-layered, yet very subtle and elegant in expression.  Suffice to say it doesn’t jump out the glass at you like its younger sibling, but seek and ye shall find!  A waxy apricot nose and palate reveals layers of pithy orange (an attractive bitter edge) honeysuckle, creamy yellow and white peach, savoury lees and nutty nougat hints (15% of this cuvee is barrel-fermented).  Dancing acidity and shimmering minerals lead a very long, lifted finish with terrific back palate resonance.  Beautiful.  13%

Quinta de Soalheiro Reserva Alvarinho 2013 (DOC Monçao e Melgaço)

Blend_All_About_Wine_Quinta_de_Soalheiro_Reserva_2013 Quinta de Soalheiro – Alvarinho Every Which Way Quinta de Soalheiro – Alvarinho Every Which Way Blend All About Wine Quinta de Soalheiro Reserva 2013

Quinta de Soalheiro Reserva Alvarinho 2013 – Photo by Sarah Ahmed | All Rights Reserved

The Reserva was fermented and aged in (new and used) French oak barrels with “batonnage” on fine lees until the end of Jun 2014.  Sometimes I’ve found this wine a little oaky for my taste but, in 2013, it has wonderful clarity to its muscular apricot, peach, lychee and pineapple fruit.   A lick of vanilla spice and dried herbs adds interest.  Great poise and balance; very good. 13%

Incidentally, Soalheiro’s range of Alvarinhos extends to an aguardente Alvarinho and ‘allo’ a Minho blend of Alvarinho and Loureiro.  Like I said, every which way!

Contacts
Quinta de Soalheiro
Alvaredo . Melgaço
4960-010 Alvaredo
Tel: (+351) 251 416 769
Fax: (+351) 251 416 771
E-mail: quinta@soalheiro.com
Website: www.soalheiro.com