Arinto, the Portuguese Hock4 de April, 2019
Last week my friend José Fidalgo took me to the launch of the new Pêra-Manca harvest. The event, held at Adega da Cartuxa, served to launch the 2014 vintage of this wine that has become an icon of wines in Portugal, not only for its quality but also for the prices it currently reaches. It is not news that the quality of this wine is indisputable and that we have another good harvest of Pêra-Manca, but what took me by surprise on this visit to the Alentejo was the Arinto.
The surprise was upon arrival, when we were served a house sparkling wine. The sparkling wine quickly 'told us what it was', revealing its secret. In the Alentejo, such freshness could only come from the Arinto variety.
This variety, today one of the most widespread in the country, is remarkable. Its aroma and its strong and tenacious acidity make it a companion to any other variety in our 'hot' Portugal. We are a seaside country planted and tempered by the Atlantic Ocean, but we are also a southern European country where the heat is very strong, especially in the regions with greater continental influence. In such a climate, the grape varieties with pronounced acidity are like that breeze you feel on the hottest summer days...
Arinto was already famous even before the creation of the DOC Bucelas, from where it is believed to originate. During the Napoleonic invasions the Duke of Wellington was based in Portugal and headed the alliance between us and England against the invader. The Arinto de Bucelas was so successful at the time that the Duke decided to take it as a gift to King George III. From there to the limelight in British lands was an apex, earning the name Portuguese Hock, because they said that the quality resembled the Hockheimer style wines with great fame among the British and originating from the Rheingau region in Germany.
It is, without a doubt, one of the noblest grape varieties we have. And besides being a good companion to other varieties when blended, it is also a friend to the grape grower in the vineyard and to the winemaker in the winery. It is not more acclaimed in its single varietal version, because not all tastes fall for the charm of its direct expression and unique personality. Explained in another way, it is like those people who are so direct and blunt that they sometimes seem a bit 'sour'. A person like that doesn't immediately generate sympathy, but the truth is that their strong character and that sharp 'acidity' make them an unforgettable personality. Arinto is like that. Pure, direct, and unique
My life is the wine
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