Vinho Verde, Portugal
When Fernando Guedes acquired this historic estate in 1982 he immediately set out to transform it, planting 35 hectares of vineyards in this cool, wet part of north-western Portugal, bordered to the north by the Minho River adjacent to Spain, to the west by the Atlantic and to the south by the city of Porto. Traditional overhead pergola systems were used due to the farmers' need to use every piece of land, including that under the trellis. While good for the farmers, this was not ideal for the vine or the wine. Fernando moved away from these high-trained pergolas to cordon-trained vines that provide better exposure for the grapes, which as a result are riper and healthier at harvest.
In replanting the vineyards at Azevedo, and making the first wine in 1990, Fernando pioneered the production of quality Vinho Verde. Today, winemaker António Braga and his team continue to make some of the best wines from the region. The vineyards are situated in the commune of Barcelos and are planted primarily with the indigenous varieties Loureiro and Alvarinho. Fermentation takes place in stainless-steel tanks at between 16 and 18˚C to retain the intrinsic freshness of these varieties. A small amount of CO2 is retained in the wine to give it a characteristic spritz, and to lift the flavour. The delicate Loureiro variety lends a floral and aromatic quality to the wine, while the Alvarinho brings structure and complexity.
The Vinho Verde is a crisp and refreshing blend of Loureiro and Alvarinho. The Quinta de Azevedo Reserva is made with a careful selection of estate fruit, and is therefore produced in small quantities, it exhibits more weight and texture on the palate due to a longer period of maceration on the skins and lees stirring for three months post fermentation. A new 100% Alvarinho Reserva, which balances this grape’s aromatic intensity with a lively acidity, will be released in spring 2020.