Tempo – A Twist On The Orange Theme


Constantino Ramos & Anselmo Mendes tasting the 2016 Tempo Alvarinho from cask

Grape? Alvarinho
Origin? Monção e Melgaço, Portugal
Color? Orange
Method? Two

The first orange inspired wine from Anselmo Mendes has just hit the domestic market in Portugal but the wine has in one way or the other been in his mind for almost 15 years. It all started at the beginning of the millennium when a barrel of fermenting Alvarinho was forgotten about and the skin contact became much longer than intended. Anselmo kind of liked it but the market didn’t fully agree. On the other hand, he wanted to make an orange wine which was his interpretation of the style, not one based on oblivion and pure coincidence. So the experimenting started and Anselmo tried several approaches before finding the formula.

Which is a combination of two techniques:

First batch – Soft pressing of the whole destemmed grapes. Fermentation with skins until the end of the alcoholic fermentation. Then pressed in to both used and new French oak barrels of 400 liters.

Second batch – The whole grape clusters were left in a closed vat for two months of maceration and fermentation. Kind of like the Gamay style in Beaujolais for example. They were then pressed in to new barrels of 400 liters of French oak.

Finally – Mix batches, get Tempo!

While liking the style, Anselmo tells me he doesn’t want to make an orange wine which resembles for example those of the legendary Josko Gravner. It’s all about finding what suits Alvarinho best.

2015 Tempo Alvarinho, Anselmo Mendes 

Slightly orange colored with a touch of bronze. On the nose it’s quite a seducer with oozing wet rocks, oriental spices, vanilla, dried apricots, jasmine flowers and pipe tobacco. No oxidized feel. On the palate a dry, quite powerful Alvarinho with tannins, dried tropical fruits, acidity, oak and a pure long finale.

Rating: 92-93 p

There are just a few thousand bottles produced of the 2015 Tempo but it’s really worth tracking down. Don’t expect a classic orange wine but more a wine inspired by the style. It won’t come cheap but then again there is a lot of work behind this particular wine. It will for sure age well but it remains to be seen if it is going to resemble older wines with skin contact from Anselmo Mendes; like the 2005 Alvarinho which showed beautifully at a tasting in Melgaço just a month ago.

At the winery in Melgaço, Anselmo’s winemaker Constantino Ramos also presented the 2016 Tempo which still ages in cask. It’s pretty different and has a more citrusy style with higher acidity. I can’t wait to compare the two from bottle!

Buy the wine? Tempo is available at Garrafeira Nacional in Lisboa. For more retailers, use wine-searcher.