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  • Jancis Robinson
Written by
  • Jancis Robinson
9 Dec 2016

From €4.65, £6.75, $8.98, 1,593 yen, 119.90 Norwegian kroner 

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We all know that the Douro Valley in northern Portugal, port country, is now a great source of distinctive, ageworthy reds, but the quality of Douro whites has been soaring – as witness recent wines of the week last August, in March 2014 and August 2012

Here's an example from Portugal's dominant family-owned wine company, formed in 1942 and most famously producing Mateus Rosé but nowadays proud owner of such names as Sandeman, Ferreira and Offley ports, as well as a host of increasingly respectable table-wine brands. 

The 2015 growing season was relatively hot and dry in spring and most of the summer but late rains saved the day. This white blend of 25% Viosinho, 20% Malvasia Fina, 15% Gouveio (Godello), 15% Códega, 15% Arinto, 5% Rabigato, and just 5% Moscatel (any more tends to be a bit too much) comes from relatively high-altitude vineyards above the river Douro. The wine was given a long, slow fermentation (about 20 days) in stainless steel and the result is 13% alcohol, bone dry, pH 3.21 and 4.9 g/l total acidity as tartaric.

I tasted it when The Wine Society showed off this season's latest finds to wine media in September (it has been in stock only since 24 October) and thought it was one of the best-value wines on the table (and The Wine Society is famous for value). Pungent, dry and racy, it has an excellent balance of fruit and acidity. You could certainly argue that it's too slick to be funky and, unlike the Niepoort Douro whites that we have previously chosen as wines of the week, is perhaps not the most characterful Douro white. But it would make a great introduction to the style which is quite unlike wines made from the same-old international varieties. With its rich mix of local Douro grapes it has real interest and could be enjoyed with or without food over the next couple of years.

This screwcapped bargain would make a great house white over the festive season. It's clearly made in quite some quantity as it's available in Portugal, Spain, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Norway, Japan, the US and fairly widely in the UK. The Wine Society charges £6.75 a bottle, Slurp.co.uk £7.95. Majestic sell it at £9.99 per single bottle but only £6.99 if it is bought as part of six mixed bottles.

Happy hunting!

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