Anselmo Mendes – the King of Vinho Verde

Vinho Verde translates into ‘green’ or ‘young wine’. It is Portugal’s most famous white and one of the world’s top seafood partners. The region has, however, suffered from a poor image of low quality, fizzy, sweet and early drinking wines – a view that I shared until meeting Anselmo Mendes in Portugal earlier this year.

Tasting a 10-year old Alvarinho ‘Contacto’ made with a short skin maceration was a profound moment. Besides its real freshness and minerality, there was terrific texture, fragrance and delicate yellow fruits. Mendes has been experimenting with large oak barrels, skin contact, lees ageing and older vines since the late ‘90s. Today, he is King of Vinho Verde!

‘Here, there is no real talk of sweetness or fizz… He is just making white wine. The wines range from great values to seriously fascinating stuff that will change your view of the region,’ says Mark Squires of the Wine Advocate. ‘They are all intellectually interesting as well as quite tasty.’

Vinho Verde is made from a number of local varieties, but Mendes focuses on Alvarinho in the Minho Valley and Loureiro in the Lima Valley. Loureiro is known for its bright peach notes and fragrance, while Alvarinho is similar, with perhaps more richness and limy character.

These fresh, mineral, juicy Vinho Verdes are perfect for the summer heat, this year or next.

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Anselmo Mendes wines list

 

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Tasting Notes

Anselmo Mendes Muros Antigos Escolha 2014 – R 105

The 2014 Muros Antigos Escolha is a blend of 40% Loureiro 40% Avesso and 20% Alvarinho, unoaked and under 2 grams per liter of residual sugar. It is also another nice value from Mendes. This is tightly wound in its youth, providing fine grip and tension on the finish. Wonderfully elegant, yet always gripping, this is pretty serious wine, focused, dry, still, penetrating and rather concentrated, with that pop on the finish. Nicely done, the price is awfully nice, too. If this didn’t say “Vinho Verde,” I suspect a lot of folks would be paying a lot more. – Wine Advocate

Anselmo Mendes Muros Antigos Alvarinho 2014 – R 180

The 2014 Alvarinho Muros Antigos is solidly built, dry and concentrated, with a fine finish and a full feeling in the mouth. As it airs and warms, it shows enlivening acidity, too. There is wonderful tension; the acidity drives home the flavor beautifully and your tongue tingles awhile with the mix of acidity and fruit. Overall, this is another fairly serious wine from this producer that no doubt gets the reasonable price point it does only because of the reputation of the region. But there’s no fizz here. It’s not sweet. It is elegant, but subtly concentrated and persistent. It may not be quite at this peak for all that long, but it will easily age a few years, too. In this vintage, I had a minor preference for this over my usual favorite, the Contacto. The styles are very different, though, the Contacto seeming livelier and a bit more transparent; this seeming a bit more tightly wound.– Wine Advocate

Anselmo Mendes Contacto Alvarinho 2014 – R 185

The 2014 Alvarinho Contacto is Alvarinho with skin contact, a different style (and different terroir) than the producer’s Muros Antigos Alvarinho reviewed this issue. Fresh, clean and dry, this is wonderfully transparent with a “wake-me-up” feel. There have been some years with better concentration, but this is invigorating, if rather undeveloped at the moment. The finish lingers beautifully. It should satisfy all urges for nice Alvarinho.– Wine Advocate

Anselmo Mendes Muros de Melgaco 2013

The 2013 Alvarinho Muros de Melgaco, in a long flute-like bottle, takes the Contacto in this vintage and adds a little depth and power. Aged in used French oak (2-6 years), it was held on the lees for six months. With an elegant feel and fine finish, it is a graceful Muros that may not have quite the punch of the 2012, but has a fine, fresh demeanor. It was just bottled about a month before it was seen, but it seems well-worth leaning up on this. Drink now-2021. – Wine Advocate

 

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