In a nutshell: A lovely, single-variety, quality Vinho Verde from the superior sub-region of Monção e Melgaço.
The lowdown: Since the 1970s Quinta de Soalheiro has justifiably forged a reputation for producing the finest Alvarinho (Albarino in Spain) wines in Portugal. They are based right up in the north of the country overlooking the Minho river and use organic and biodynamic viticultural practices to produce some exceptional wines. This is their classic, vibrant Alvarinho bursting with crisp, ripe citrus, stone and even tropical fruit notes backed up with fresh minerality.
When to drink: This is a Vinho Verde that will can age well and, lovely just by itself, it's a good partner to seafood, fish and poultry dishes.
Quinta de Soalheiro is about as far north as you can go in Portugal, not far from the town of Melgaço and pretty much in sight of the Spanish border. João Antonio Cerdeira. an oenologist with experience of working in Burgundy, was the first to planted Alvarinho vines here in 1974 before the area was recognised as suitable for growing vines. He was attracted by the particular microclimate found locally - the name Soalheiro is derived from the Portuguese for sunny place - and in 1982 the first Soalheiro wines were released. Being a good way inland and protected by high land rainfall is less here than in other parts of Vinho Verde country. They have 15 hectares of vineyards situated on granitic slopes at altitudes up to 200m from where they farm their Alvarinho grapes organically. Today the estate is run by Joãos son, Luis and daughter, Maria João who are considered among the best growers of Alvarinho in Portugal.