WINE OF THE WEEK-SANTIAGO ALVARINHO RESERVA 2018-$17.59
By Dwight Casimere
Fresh flowers. Hints of jasmine and orange blossoms, with flavors of fresh Asian pears and a faint touch of mint, Quinta De Santiago Alvarinho Reserva 2018 ($17.59), is the elegant, rich, and full-bodied white wine you’ve been waiting for. From Portugal’s Vinhos Verde region, and specifically, the Sub-region of Moncao and Melgaco, its the wine you want to have with your favorite dish of Pad Thai, Shrimp Kung Pao, Korean “Candy” Chicken, or Mongolian Ramen.
Made from 100% Alvarinho grapes, this is the go-to wine for the waning days of summer. With its rich fruit flavor and bright minerality, it goes with a variety of summertime dishes, even lending itself to heartier fare, like a whole salmon roasted on the grill and stuffed with hot and sweet peppers and an abundance of oregano and sage. Because of its close affinity to spicy Asian dishes, I decided to take a cultural leap and try one of the New Orleans favorites that I grew up with, Seafood Gumbo. When you think about it, what goes into an Asian stir-fry and a gumbo isn’t all that different. With the exception of building the ‘Roux’, or rich spicy gravy made with the pan drippings, making a Gumbo isn’t that different from building a stir-fry. The blend of sweet and spicy peppers, fresh garden oregano, sage and garlic and onion and a heady seafood broth derived from fresh Gulf Shrimp and Blue Crab from Galveston and, of course, a splash of Alvarinho, made for a dance party in the mouth. Instead of the usual fluffy white rice, I used wild rice, which gave the dish an added nutty flavor that melded just perfectly with the Alvarinho.
This is a finely crafted wine, using both old world and modern techniques to create a truly unique expression of Alvarinho. The wine is harvested by hand and the grapes are pressed gently to extract the concentrated juice. A short pre-fermentation maceration and the juice is off to temperature controlled cold fermentation before being aged in French oak barrels (70%), and stainless steel tanks (30%). The wine is allowed to remain on the lees until bottling. The distinctively shaped green bottle caresses the golden colored wine with flecks of spring green, a hint of the elegance therein.
For a white wine, Santiago Alvarinho Reserva has a lot of backbone. It’s imbued with 14% alcohol, which gives it substantial legs and a hefty mouth feel that is unique for a white wine. The freshness and mineral character and pronounced aromatics derives from its unique micro-terroir along the Minho River. Protected from marine influences of the Atlantic, the wine stands out from others in the region, giving it a distinct expression of the Alvarinho grape. Versatile with all kinds of seafood, chicken, veal, or just a plate of cheese and some nice sausages and cured meats, this is a wine for every mood. If you’re still on self-imposed lockdown with the pandemic, you couldn’t ask for a more pliable companion. Quinta De Santiago, Alvarinho Reserva 2018-$17.59. From Portugal with Love! Visit quintadesantiago.pt for more details.