In a nutshell: An, organic, unfiltered, complex Vinho Verde which is very much a cut above.
The lowdown: Quinta de Soalheiro are regarded as among the finest Portuguese producers of Alvarinho (aka Albarino in Spain). This wine, their 'Terramatter' cuvée, is grown biodynamically in a way to support the biodiversity of the vineyard, goes through a partial malolactic fermentation in traditional chestnut barrels and is then bottled unfiltered. Intense in colour in the glass, expressive aromas and a rich and complex mouthfell with ripe citrus and stone fruit flavours, hints of vibrant vegetal notes, and backed up by a classic fresh minerality.
When to drink: A unique,ageworthy, Alvarinho Vinho Verde which can match an array of seafood and poultry dishes.
Quinta de Soalheiro is about as far north as you can go in Portugal, not far from the town of Melgaço and pretty much in sight of the Spanish border. João Antonio Cerdeira. an oenologist with experience of working in Burgundy, was the first to planted Alvarinho vines here in 1974 before the area was recognised as suitable for growing vines. He was attracted by the particular microclimate found locally - the name Soalheiro is derived from the Portuguese for sunny place - and in 1982 the first Soalheiro wines were released. Being a good way inland and protected by high land rainfall is less here than in other parts of Vinho Verde country. They have 15 hectares of vineyards situated on granitic slopes at altitudes up to 200m from where they farm their Alvarinho grapes organically. Today the estate is run by Joãos son, Luis and daughter, Maria João who are considered among the best growers of Alvarinho in Portugal.