Nortico Alvarinho 2020
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The Nortico project from Rui Abecassis is a passion project. It started in his family’s “small tile atelier, where” he “learned to love tiles” and the art of making them. “a labor of passion and tenacity.” Azulejos, the famed blue and white Portuguese tiles that can be seen all over Portugal on both simple and elaborate buildings alike are an integral part of the Portuguese culture. He “wanted the Nortico label to evoke those tiles to capture that spirit and Portuguese aesthetics.” Nortico produces two wines: a white and a rosé from Minho.
The boundaries of Vinho Verde and Minho are the same. They stretch from the River Minho in the north (which forms the border with Spain) as far down the coast as the city of Porto. Inland the region extends even further south. Vines grow in the fertile granite soils located along the rivers that flow from the mountains in the east toward the ocean to the west. Vinho Verde is a light, crisp, high-acid wine usually made with the addition of CO2 to add a little spritz. White grape varieties are: Loureiro, Trajadura, Arinto, Avesso, Alvarinho and Azal Branco. Although the region is predominantly known for lightly effervescent white wines, sparkling white Vinho Verde and still red Vinho Verde are allowed in the DOC as well. Although cool, wet weather sometimes makes it difficult to ripen grapes, around the villages of Monção and Melgaço in Monção, the northernmost region of the Minho, the climate is warmer and drier with hills blocking the maritime weather somewhat. This climate when combined with the Alvarinho grape planted there results in richer, fuller, more subtly complex wines. These wines are usually vinified completely dry without the use of CO2.
The grapes for this 2018 are grown on the southern banks of the Minho River on the border with Spain’s Galicia province. The vines are sustainably grown on granite soil in small plots called jardins or gardens. As is traditional in the region, the vines are trained high up onto cement pergolas. Although this wine could be labeled Vinho Verde, they are using the Vinho Regional Minho designation. Because they want to produce a richer, fuller, well-balanced wine, Nortico prefers to produce a still wine and, therefore, does not add any CO2. It undergoes a long, cool fermentation and is aged four months in stainless steel. With an alcohol level of 12.5% Nortico Alvarinho is a wine you can sip all day long—redolent with fresh citrus, peach and tropical aromas. The palate echoes these flavors and adds salty minerality and mouthwatering acidity that make it a no brainer to pair with food. In Portugal, they serve it with corn bread and butter—a Portuguese classic.