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Exploring The Loureiro Grape

With over 250 indigenous grape varieties officially registered in Portugal, one can imagine how much there is to explore here when it comes to wine production. I have had the opportunity to taste a myriad of varieties and enticing blends throughout Portugal’s 14 wine regions and my palate is rarely disappointed. I recently received two white wine samples featuring the Loureiro grapes from the Vinho Verde wine region and I was quite eager to taste them.

The Loureiro grape is grown primarily in Portugal’s Vinho Verde region. Of Portugal’s 14 wine regions, Vinho Verde is the largest DOC (Denominação de Origem Controlada) located in the northwest corner of the country. The boundaries for the region were set in 1908 and it is believed to be one of the oldest regions in Portugal. Vinho Verde stretches from the Minho River in the north, separating northern Portugal from Spain to the Atlantic Ocean bordering the west and the Douro River running through the southern border of the region. Several other rivers traverse through Vinho Verde, which includes the Ave and Cávado. 

Image courtesy of Wines of Portugal

Vinho Verde is divided into nine sub-regions and grows a variety of grapes in fertile, granite and sandy soils with rainy, humid and cool temperatures created by its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. Vinho Verde is noted for producing wines that are fresh with crisp acidity and exceptional quality-to-price ratio.

The Loureiro grape is a light-skinned variety known for its floral aromas. Wines of Portugal states, “Although now widely disseminated throughout the Vinho Verde region, it seems that the Loureiro grape originated in the valley of the River Lima, towards the north of the VR Minho/DOC Vinho Verde region. "Loureiro" means "laurel" or "bay" and the aroma of Loureiro wines is said to resemble that of laurel flowers, also orange blossom, acacia and lime blossom, overlaying apple, peachy fruit. Loureiro wines usually have refreshing, well-balanced acidity. Loureiro is much in evidence nowadays bottled as a single variety, but traditionally it was more often blended with Arinto (Pedernã) and Alvarinho, or with Trajadura. It is a very vigorous, high-yielding variety that has only recently been recognized as "noble". The bunches are elongated and relatively compact, bearing medium-sized, yellowish-greenish grapes.”

Image courtesy of Wines of Portugal

Esporão Bico Amarelo 2019
This is the debut vintage of Bico Amarelo (Yellow Beak). Esporão is a cutting edge winery with a presence throughout Portugal.  They have approximately 700 hectares of prime agricultural areas that include wine vineyards, olive groves and other crops planted mainly in the Alentejo and Douro wine regions of Portugal. This wine is a blend of 40% Loureiro hand-harvested from Quinta Do Ameal in Vinho Verde and 30% Alavarinho and 30% Avesso sourced from nearby growers. The wine is aged for three to six months in stainless steel vats.

Photo credit: Penny Weiss

Lovely floral aromas combine with notes of fresh stone fruit and citrus. The palate is entertained with lively acidity, lemon, green apple and a hint of peach. This is a light and refreshing wine.
Alcohol: 11.5%
SRP:  $12

Quinta do Ameal Loureiro 2019
Quinta do Ameal is a historic estate founded in 1710 in the Lima sub-region of Vinho Verde. Lima River Valley is considered the birthplace of Loureiro. The estate has 30 hectares of vineyards, of which 14 are dedicated to the Loureiro grape. In 2019, the Esporão group became the new owners of Quinta do Ameal. This wine is 100% Loureiro hand-harvested from estate-grown fruit. It is aged for seven months on lees in stainless steel vats.

Photo credit: Penny Weiss

Enticing floral notes mingle with citrus and fresh fruit. The palate offers fruit blended with lots of lemon, an edge of minerality, subtle herbs, a touch of tart apple and vibrant acidity. It is refreshing, light and quite enjoyable with lemon zest on the finish.
Alcohol:  11%
SRP:  $18

Both wines will drink beautifully as an aperitif or pair nicely with seafood, cold soups, salads and grilled vegetables.

Until next time…

Cheers!

Penny

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