Very literally so this year, when Anselmo Mendes held a tasting on our much-anticipated spring equinox. Given the feel of Anselmo Mendes’ wines, it was a particularly suitable combination. Fortunately, it was a sunny day but it was a northerly wind that tugged on our coats when we took shelter in Adam & Albin’s Stockholm restaurant “Tvätteriet” (The Laundry). Packed to the last place with writers and influencers in the wine industry.
In Sweden, Anselmo Mendes is mostly known for easily accessible wines in the lower price range. But here at Adam & Albin it exudes professionalism, and as a result of the magic, the wines also became more elegant. Anyone who has not yet enjoyed a bite at Rådmansgatan 16 (Stockholm) has something to look forward to.
Alvarinho is a lovely grape that more and more Swedes discover. Take another look in that gigantic ice bucket on the bar next time. Among the ice cubes, there is regularly a rosé, a riesling, a prosecco, perhaps a chablis and nowadays often an alvarinho. But this tasting brought us quite a bit upwards on the scale of what diversity alvarinho can offer.
First out was 3 Rios 2018 (three rivers in Portuguese). The wine is not yet available (n Sweden) but with a target price of around 10 euro, it should sell really well. Clean, gentle nose without much details, just a little refreshing whisper. Clean, slim and delicious acidity. The label had a drawing of three rivers with perforated lines that could easily be peeled off with a nail. At the back was the names of the three rivers. A clever way to help consumers remember what they have drunk.
To the fresh scallops, smoked whitefish roe, avocado and ice-cold cucumber, a glass of Alvarinho Contacto was served, which is available in almost every Systembolaget shop for a modest ~12 euros. I would venture a guess that most of us associate Alvarinho Contacto with one of those bottles in the ice bucket on the bar counter, but it matches perfectly with food as well.
Thereafter, a suite of three glasses of alvarinho was served which represented the variety of style the grape can give. Among them Curtimenta Alvarinho 2016 (~27 euro), which gave us every impression that we had a riesling in the glass. Tantalisingly light petroleum, green apples, some peach and a nice crunchiness. In a blind tasting, it might possibly have been the more low-key acidity that gave away that it was not a riesling.
The next glass took us in a completely different direction and as far as I remember the winemaker mentioned that the ten-year-old small oak barrels used were intended to give a Burgundian style. Muros de Melgaco Alvarinho 2017 (~20 euro) offered a full-bodied nose with well-integrated barrels that were much more obvious than what one would expect from such old barrels. Lovely viscosity and some elegance.
The last wine, which was also the most expensive, showed no obvious link to alvarinho. Parcela Unica Alvarinho 2017 (~32 euro) offered buttery oak, precocious clean tones and a feeling of being very well made. Nine months on new French barrels have left their mark. Clear and wonderfully long acidity with in my opinion a fresh minerality. One might think that the wine cries out for being aged but with a turbot, creamy horseradish sauce with sesame and coriander it was insanely delicious.
Overall, an enriching tasting considering the span between the simple fresh style and the more complex oak barrel influences with longer skin contact. Without a doubt bottles that are well worth their price, where not even the top-premium version will put you back more than just over thirty euros and definitely will be an exciting new feature in the wine cellar. Now, all that remains is that the sun pushes up the mercury a bit and that the bartender fills his ice bucket with refreshing bottles.
Sven-Olof Johansson is a wine enthusiast in Stockholm with a long history of wine tasting experiences.
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