I had the great pleasure of briefly visiting the Essência Festival this Saturday. Hosted by Porto’s historic Soares dos Reis museum in its gardens, this year’s edition was wholly devoted to the Vinhos Verdes, Portugal’s largest demarcated region. The little time I spent there would have been enough for anyone to verify, yet again, how the region has decisively evolved and diversified away from the fizzy, sugary wines which made its fame in generations past. Rather, its many different and contrasting subregions (170 km separate the Minho River, its northern border, from its southern one at Castelo de Paiva) are the home of entirely serious, structured and age worthy whites.
I would have probably never heard of Mancelos, a small town near Amarante, if it were not for Casa de Cello’s Quinta de San Joanne, an honorable David stuck between the Goliaths of Quinta da Aveleda and Quinta da Lixa. Its 14 ha of vineyards produce wines which most definitely do not seek to compete with the giants’ easygoing, inexpensive quaffers. While the 2019 Herança was gorgeous in its expressive youth and carrying power, their 2013 Escolha and 2000 Quinta de San Joanne stole the show, remaining supremely vibrant and lively at such respectable ages.
While I knew the project at San Joanne, this my first time tasting wines from Quinta do Louriçal, a modest 4 ha located right on the other side of the Minho River from Rias Baixas. I was blown away by their 2015 Poema Reserva, a 24 month sur lies Alvarinho I would have probably guessed as being from the latest vintage, had I tasted it blind. Given how it has barely budged these past eight years, I would be very interested in following it for at least the next eight. Terrific.