Last January 12th, the magazine Grandes Escolhas published a blog article about the consumption, origin and history of the Portuguese white wine.
The article was not indifferent to us, due to our proximity with the subject and our vast portfolio of white wines continuously available in our online store, and that has reason to be: there are more and more producers launching themselves in the market, in a high-end segment, which a few years ago would not find appreciators.
The truth is that in recent years the taste for white wine has undergone some mutations. Today there are many more consumers interested in tasting different things that can go beyond the fruity aromas and flavors and no secrets. A practice that came from a long time ago has been recovered, now with more knowledge. These are the white wines with long aging or blends from several harvests.
"The Portuguese tradition of consuming white wines has never placed them on the same level as red wines; they have always been less appreciated. Also for this reason white wines have always been poor relatives that few paid attention to. The wines often did not evolve well, oxidized in an instant and lost interest and demand from consumers. There were exceptions in several regions, but it was mainly in Dão and Bairrada that the whites lasted longer. Bairrada companies that dealt with Dão wines - as is the case of Caves S. João - had in their portfolio whites that resisted very well and were very healthy for many years.
Also Vinícola do Vale do Dão, owned by Sogrape, bottled white wines that it acquired from local cooperative wineries. The emblematic brand was Dão Pipas and these are whites that show that the region had many virtues and capacities to generate long-lived wines. This Dão Pipas, a brand that remained until the 90's, served a bit of inspiration for a white wine created in Quinta dos Carvalhais and that, it can be said, was in Dão the founding wine of these new trends. Created by winemaker Manuel Vieira, Colheita Seleccionada gained "star" status due to the appreciation that the Belgian importer showed towards this white wine, and was exported and sold out with great success (...) In the reorganization of the Carvalhais portfolio, it was necessary to create a Reserve white wine - fresher and with more new wood - and so Colheita Seleccionada was no longer produced. As there were still many barrels, the idea of the Branco Especial was born, in this case, a blend of several harvests.
Not always wines of this profile that we talk about here are the result of a previous idea or a project designed to achieve this end; not rarely, chance plays an important role here, reminding us that we do not always control or understand everything that happens during the evolution of a wine. Celso Pereira, winemaker in the Douro, tells us that the Quanta Terra white 2012 was born crooked but turned out to be a big and positive surprise. That year two barrels of the white were deemed unsuitable to go into the Grand Reserve and it was only after a few years that it was realized that the wine had evolved very well and was then marketed. Only after 2015 (which will be the next vintage to be marketed but for which we will still have to wait a few years) did they intentionally start to leave the wine aging. What happened to Celso Pereira often happens in wineries when it is necessary to select barrels for a particular batch. What to do with what remains is the difficult question to answer, but current whites are suggesting several paths."
These, shall we say, difficult wines are very challenging at the table because they can pair very well with unexpected dishes, with different cuisines. And the challenge extends to various products - fish, meats, cheeses - and different ways of cooking. So there is little point in having definite opinions about the dos and don'ts in connecting with food.
Text by: João Paulo Martins