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Ask anyone for the best Alvarinho in Portugal and people will point to the northwestern villages of Moncao and Melgaco, just on the border with Spain. Nortico Alvarinho is a superb example of the grape's hallmark traits: fresh citrus, peach and tropical aromas paired with clean, juicy fruit and vibrant minerality. Here, on the south bank of the Minho River, farming is as it was centuries ago, with the grapes planted on granite pergolas in plots so small they are called “jardins”--or “gardens” in Portuguese. This humble yet serious wine showcases the best of northern Portugal’s commitment to artisan production in all things. In the words of Rui Abecassis, founder of Obrigado, “Nortico Alvarinho is one of those projects that has been in the making for quite some time. It started in my family's small tile atelier, where I learned to love tiles. The traditional ceramic tile atelier was more a labor of passion and tenacity than business … [and] to this day, tiles are produced exactly like in the 18th century, each shaped from scratch and painted by hand. Walking the streets of Oporto or Lisboa you may encounter tiles on both modest and important buildings. Tiles are a durable building material, and an early form of storytelling and graphic design. We wanted the Nortico label to evoke those tiles to capture that spirit and Portuguese aesthetics.”
WHAT MAKES THIS WINE UNIQUE?
Nortico is from tiny vineyard plots in Moncao and Melgaço, on the border with Spain's Galicia province - the best Alvarinho-growing area in Portugal. Unlike other wines from the larger Vinho Verde area, Nortico has no added CO2, making for a richer, fuller, well-balanced wine that showcases its maritime influence with a kiss of salinity on the finish. Albarino/Alvarinho is the grape to watch for ageworthy, world-class wines, and this is a perfect introduction.
2020 Best Buy W&S
100% Alvarinho. Sustainably grown vines (small plots called jardins) planted from 1910-2005 in granite soil at 20-250 m (68-820 ft) elevation.
This is a fresh white wine with the characteristic bright acidity and aromas of peach and grapefruit. At only 12.5 % alcohol, Nortico is light and delicate, lovely as a "porch-sipping wine" to drink on its own. Have it simply with corn bread and butter like country folks do in Portugal. Also a terrific seafood wine, particularly with salty, fattier dishes like fish tacos or broiled oysters. Recommended serving temperature is 50F (10C) so the citrus and fruit aromas are still present.
VINIFICATION AND AGEING:
Grapes are selected at the winery and experience a long, cool fermentation. Racking, primary filtration and cold stabilization. Four months in stainless steel, filtration prior to bottling in February.
LOCATION, SOIL, CLIMATE:
Nortico vineyards are located on the southern banks of the Minho river. The vines are tended in granite soil at 20 - 250 m (68-820 ft) elevation. Although it rains a lot (2,000 ml annually) the slightly inland area is a little warmer than the coastal plantings, which allows for perfect ripening.
Creamy citrus oil, lime and yellow apple notes are nicely spiced and detailed with saline mineral and floral underpinnings through the long finish. — Gillian Sciaretta