Do you love aromatic white wines but you're tired of Sauvignon Blancs and Pinot Gris? Let us introduce you to a rare white blend from Portugal. Portugal's most well known white wine is Vinho Verde, typically a cheap, easy-drinking, summer wine without much depth or complexity. Enter Conceito Contraste Branco, a blend of 3 indigenous varietals rarely found in wines outside of Portugal. With the influence of partial oak aging and occasional batonnage (lees stirring) this wine draws you in with an enticing nose and a luscious mouthfeel balanced beautifully with vibrant acidity. At $17 a bottle, this wine is a must-try.
A blend of Rabigato, one of the oldest grape varieties in Portugal with naturally low sugar levels and high acidity it gives the wine balance and freshness and allows for great aging potential. Arinto is naturally high in acid showing notes of citrus fruits, lemon, and grapefruit with occasional stonefruit characteristics and rich peach when aged. Codega do Larinho is floral and fragrant, lemon, peach, melon, field flowers, with minerality but can struggle to retain acidity which is why it's the perfect blending grape for Rabigato and Arinto.
Conceito is located in the Portuguese town of Vila Nova de Foz Côa. A family-owned winery that was founded in the 1940s with 86 hectares. Rita Ferreira Marqués, a young winemaker who has studied in, Bordeaux, New Zealand, South Africa, and California leads this project with the aim of producing quality wines by fusing tradition with innovation.
Aging: 70% in Stainless Steel 30% New French Oak
Tasting Notes: White Wine. Rabigato, Arinto, Codega do Larinho, and dozens of others from very old vines. It’s a rich and concentrated white with precision in its citric fruit and minerality. Ages well in bottle for 5 to 10 years and it pairs perfectly with fish and vegetarian dishes.
The 2017 Contraste Branco is a blend of traditional white grapes like Rabigato, Códega, Códega do Larinho, and Arinto from mostly 20-year-old vines at 600 meters, all co-fermented (wild ferment) in a 70/30 mixture of stainless steel and new French oak for eight months. It comes in at 13.3% alcohol. This second wine has become a nice value and consistent overachiever. In a vintage that had its fair share of difficulties, how does it do this year? Granting that they are not all side by side, this year seems relatively rich for this level. It feels full in the mouth. However, it is harder to find the zing and zest I often see. It isn't too far off of the 2016 in style, but it particularly leans to emphasizing fruitiness and roundness as opposed to crispness and precision. It's pretty ripe this year. There are no herbaceous nuances. Overall, this has many merits. I won't be surprised if many prefer this incarnation, but I would've liked just a bit more focus and energy. It is still very good. ~89 Wine Advocate
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