A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend a lunch and tasting with the winemaker in charge of white wines at Esporão, the very talented and charming Sandra Alves.
We tasted a wonderful line up of six white wines, all delicious, but the 2011 White Reserva especially impressed me. Oaky, yes, but judiciously so, showing a lively interplay between the oak and fruit flavors.
Youthful pale gold in color, the nose evolves nicely in the glass, with each and every swirl. On the nose it showed an alluring mix of ripe yellow fruit -mirabelle plums, melon, apricot, pear, exotic citrus mingling with sweet spice, smoke and toasty vanilla. It is rich, full-bodied and mouth filling, yet crisp and refreshing with a firm backbone of acidity. Warming but well integrated alcohol this wine has a long rich finish with a smoky, spicy kick on the finish.
At the Table: A full bodied, richly flavored wine that can stand up to strong flavors at the table such as this simple salmon teriyaki dish from Anjali Prasertong. The vibrant favors of the wine and the interplay of fruit and oak provide a delicious complement to the spicy teriyaki flavor and richness of the salmon.
About Esporão, the Alentejo and the Reserva Branco (white) 2011:
Esporão is one of the most well know wine producers from the Alentejo area of Portugal. The winery was established in 1973, farms about 200 acres of vineyard and is the largest privately owned winery in Portugal. Esporão is also well known for its delicious olive oils. Sandra Alves whom I recently met, heads up the white winemaking. From hearing her speak and from chatting with her, Sandra is a passionate, charming and very intelligent lady who puts her heart and soul into crafting the Esporão white wines.
The Alentejo is a large wine region in Portugal. It is north of the popular Algarve, but more inland. Today it is a hotbed of exciting young winemakers and experimentation, making deliciously modern, but true to their terroir wines.
This 2011 White Reserva is a blend of the local Portuguese varieties Antão Vaz, Arinto, Roupeiro and Semillon - the latter an homage to the overall head winemaker's Australian roots! The three local varieties in the blend hold their acidity excellently, even through the hot Portuguese summers.
Mary Gorman-McAdams, MW (Master of Wine), is a New York based wine educator, freelance writer and consultant. In 2012 she was honored as a Dame Chevalier de L'Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne
(Image: Tanners Winer Merchants)