While bottles of Portuguese white wines have shown up before at our group tastings (such as the Albariño Scuffle), we had not yet devoted an entire evening to this category. So, guests were instructed to bring any Portuguese white wine for this tasting, except for those from Vinho Verde. Nothing against Vinho Verde, we just wanted a more diverse group of wines.
This turned out to be a very difficult tasting to rate, since all the bottles were well-made, exhibiting vibrant acidity and a sense of place. Our first and second place bottles were only separated by one point, and all bottles received at least a few points. All were from the 2019 vintage, and three were produced by the same winemaker.
Bottle variation turned up again, as two of the entries were revealed to be the same wine. One bottle tasted fresh and interesting, white the other tasted darker and more muted.
All bottles were very good values, and while the winning wine was the most expensive of the night, it was still only $17, showing excellent complexity and minerality.
First Place: Filipa Pato D.N.M.C. Dinamica Branco 2019 (Bairrada). Tasters found scents of rubber shoe, wax, coconut, limes, lemons, fennel, cloves, celery, and bubble gum. Diana was reminded of "sweet pepperbush", and Andy described "coconut shoe polish." Plenty of acidity, with flavors of apple pie, citrus, cinnamon, vanilla, almond, and nutmeg. Had hints of tea and soap, then freesia on the finish. Showed excellent complexity, minerality, and overall harmony. Made from biodynamically farmed Bical (80%) and Arinto (20%). Ali, Kristin, and David's favorite of the night, with a total of 26 points. David's bottle. About $17.
Second Place: Nortico Alvarinho 2019 (Minho). Appeared a bit spritzy in the glass, with bright aromas of ocean breeze, chalk, plastic, crushed up rocks, lime juice, honey, pears, and bubble gum. Diana was reminded of crab or lobster shells found on the beach. Smelled refreshing and balanced. Great minerality on the palate, with a salty, vibrant quality, suggesting crushed up oyster shells, then flavors of lime juice, lemons, spearmint, and lemon verbena. Balanced, with a long finish. Ali noted that it "feels like a complete thought, there's a roundness and a balance." Andy and Diana's favorite. 25 points. Andy's bottle. About $15.
Third Place: Rui Roboredo Madeira Castello D'Alba Reserva 2019 (Douro). Offered scents of mango, dried flowers, cleanser, plastic, chlorine, and cheese. Ali was reminded of "grandma's house." Flavors were reminiscent of ocean water, sea salt, tide pool, oyster liquor, and diluted honey. Diana felt that it "tastes more like sea water than wine." Boisterous. Made from Viosinho, Rabigato, and Códega do Larinho. Matt's favorite. 14 points. Kristin's bottle. About $15.
Rui Roboredo Madeira Beyra 2019 (Beira Interior). Bright, citrusy nose, suggesting sidewalk chalk and lime juice, with hints of cheese and plastic. Inviting and fresh. Ali detected "something a little toasty" as well as "bathroom cleanser & scrubbing bubbles." Salty on the palate, with flavors of green melon, tangerine, and tropical fruit. Ali noted a little banana on the attack. Very lively on the tongue, and highly acidic, but not boring, with a lasting finish. Made from Síria and Fonte Cal. 9 points. Ali's bottle. About $12.
Nortico Alvarinho 2019 (Minho). A little spritzy. Dusty nose, with notions of wet asphalt, sneakers, and rubber. Ali was reminded of purple Fla-Vor-Ice, which was initially described as "ice sack" combined with an interesting gesture with her hands. Tasted similar to honey, bananas, cashews, hazelnuts, and toasted coconuts. Hints of artificial banana flavoring (a.k.a. Ali's worst nightmare). Andy noted that it was "like a daiquiri." Tasted older and slightly richer than some of the others. Diana found gasoline on the finish. 6 points. Matt's bottle. About $15.
Rui Roboredo Madeira Beyra Reserva Quartz 2019 (Beira Interior). Made from half Síria and half Fonte Cal. Dusty, slightly shy nose, offering scents of pomegranate, butternut squash, anise, and an oily quality. Diana was reminded of a "stormy, gray beach day", while Kristin noted "chalk and clapping erasers." A bit somber, with Matt describing it as "a good funeral wine." Tasters found flavors of apricots, nectarines, lemons, lilies, oysters, and iron. Lots of acidity, but also an unctuous, umami note. Andy noted that the "smell and the taste go hand and hand." 4 points. Diana's bottle. About $14.