Portugal – we have contact (o)


Monção – probably the best sub region of Minho. Not only thanks to its potential climate, modest rainfall and excellent granite soil; but just as well for the fact that the only approved grape to produce Vinho Verde, is the Alvarinho. Furthermore all the best winemakers can be located here, be it Soalheiro, Feital or Muros Antigos. The latter, run by Mr. Alvarinho himself, Anselmo Mendes, is the celebrated oenologist’s own project. Being known as a consulting winemaker in all of Portugal, Anselmo started his own Monção winery where he produces wines worth following.

Take the Contacto as an example. The grapes are destemmed and gently pressed before the fermentation with skin contact which takes place in small stainless steel tanks for about two weeks. Then four months on its sediment with weekly movement before bottled. The result? A splendid mouth-watering, delicously fizzy and mineral driven Alvarinho that simply just breathes class!

Few can produce a wine of this quality under ten euros and friends of German Riesling and Austrian dittos own themselves an approach to the Alvarinho wines of Monção.

Sadly only 6000 bottles were produced of the 2008 Contacto from Anselmo Mendes, but since the wine is new on the market I suspect Mr. Mendes can do some magic and expand the production. Retailing at around ten euros it is a must buy for both the terroirist but also for those who love aromatic grapes.

Compared with the warmer 2007, the cooler character of 2008 appeals to my taste buds. Wet rocks, grey pears, fennel, floral notes and peaches. I just love this type of wine that is so tough to describe without making the wine sound simple. Racy acidity, fine lingering notes of peaches and grey pears, a grassy feel and then it comes; the smoky minerally finish. You got to love this.

(2008 Contacto, Anselmo Mendes, Monção, 89-90 p)