In 2012 I reported on the wines of Ribafreixo, at that time a new name in the booming Alentejo region of Portugal, and east of Lisbon. Recently the company sent me two new white wine releases to try: Gâudio, a single-varietal Alvarinho (otherwise known as Albariño when grown in Spain) and a single varietal Chenin Blanc called ‘Connections’. Varietal Alvarinho is becoming a major force in Portuguese white wines, but so far confined to wines from the very north on the border with Galicia. An example from down in the Alentejo is unusual, but not as unusual as the Chenin Blanc: in fact this is Portugal’s first ever 100% Chenin Blanc wine. The story behind it – and its name – is Ribafreixo’s co-owner, South African-born Mário Pinheiro who sees the wine as “a nostalgic reminder of [my] experiences in the wine lands of South Africa.”
The wines imported into the UK by Marta Vine, and wine-searcher links are included for each wine to show current UK and world-wide stockists.
Ribafreixo, Gáudio Alvarinho 2012, Portugal
An elegant but powerful example of Alvarinho grown in relatively hot conditions, the wine achieved 13% alcohol by volume and pours a youthful, very pale lemon/straw colour. On the nose there is plentiful lemon rind and apple skin fragrance, something nicely perfumed and floral too, in a crunchy and fresh style (this wine is made entirely in stainless steel). On the palate that power comes through: it is a whit wine with a bit of structure and phenolic grip, the fruit not quite as buoyant as the nose suggests, but still very nicely balanced and fresh, in a punchy seafood and shellfish-friendly style. 88/100. See all stockists on wine-searcher.
Ribafreixo, Connections Chenin Blanc 2012, Portugal
Also unoaked and made at cool temperature in stainless steel, Ribafreixo’s Chenin began as a limited edition wine made only in quantities to share with friends, but its popularity has led to this first commercial release of 500 cases of 12. It has a pale yellow colour and citrus on the nose. There’s a suggestion of something a little bit mineral or stony in a very clean aromatic profile. On the palate this is lean and juicy, a tart and dry lemon and underripe apple character could perhaps do with a touch more texture or flesh to round it out, but that cleansing acidity and minerality is good and again, fish and seafood would be natural partners. 87/100. See all stockists on wine-searcher.