Thursday, November 17, 2022

Quinta Do Ameal: New Vintages of Two Vinho Verde Treasures

Last year, the 2020 Esporão Bico Amarelo and the 2020 Ameal LourreiroPortuguese wines from the Vinho Verde region, made my list of Top Ten Wines Under $20. They were delicious and interesting wines, at very good prices, I've had the Ameal on my table multiple times since then. You can check out my prior article, Quinta Do Ameal: The Marvels of Vinho Verde & Lourerirofor many more details about these wines. 

Recently, I received media samples of the new vintage, 2021, of both of these wines, and they remained excellent, and they are likely to end up on my list of the Top Wines of 2022

The 2021 Esporão Bico Amarelo ($12) is a blend of 40% Loureiro (from Quinta do Ameal) and 30% each of Alvarinho de Monção e Melgaço and Avesso de Baião. It possesses an 11% ABV, which is slightly less than lthe previous vintage which was 11.5% ABV. In addition, the wine remains in contact with the lees for 4-6 months, rather than only 3-4 months as in the previous vintage. For this vintage, the flavor profile was similar to the previous wine, except there was a slightly richer body feel to the wine. Again though, it was still light and refreshing, with bright notes of lemon, citrus and floral elements. It's an easy drinking wine, a true crowd pleaser, and works well on its own or paired with seafood or other light dishes. 

Previously, I stated: "This is the type of wine you should buy by the case so you always have a bottle on hand." For this vintage, I stand by this statement. Portuguese wines often provide excellent value, and this wine is evidence in support of that proposition. 

The 2021 Ameal Lourreiro ($18) is very similar to the previous vintage, produced from 100% Loureiro (from 20 year old vines) which sits on the lees in stainless steel for about 7 months and has a 11.5% ABV. The grapes are from the Lima sub-region, the birthplace of Loureiro. The grape is known for its crisp acidity, and locals refer to its style as "needle point" because of that acidity. For a long time, Loureiro was seen to produce only simple, easy drinking wines but Ameal changed perceptions when they started producing high quality, age worthy Loureiro wines. 

When many consumers think of Vinho Verde, they aren't thinking about wines like this Ameal Loureiro.  They often are thinking of slightly effervescent, easy drinking wines, but the Ameal should change those preconceptions. In addition, the winery doesn't even place "Vinho Verde" on the front label as they wish to highlight the Loureiro grape, and avoid consumer's expectations about Vinho Verde wines.

My previous tasting note for this wine was: "I fell in love with this wine from the first sip. It possessed an intriguing nose, stone fruits and floral elements, and on the palate, its complexity and rich flavors burst through. It was crisp, fresh and dry, with a delightful melange of citrus, peach, floral notes, minerality and subtle herbal touches. This wine was well-balanced with a lengthy and delicious finish. This wine would also be perfect on its own, or paired with seafood or similar lighter dishes."

It's difficult to add anything to this description as it's still appropriate for the new vintage, and I don't think there is really any significant difference with the new vintage. It remains an amazing wine, one which thoroughly impressed me. This wine is said to be able to age well for 15 years or more, and I need to put some of this wine in my cellar to see how it evolves over time. At $18, this is a very good value and I'd highly recommend buying this wine by the case as well. This wine would be great for your Thanksgiving table. 

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