Jen and I have a SUPER cheap but really good sipping wine that we haven’t wavered from for a couple of years now. It’s a spritzy , 11.5% alcohol blend of Alvarinho (a.k.a. Albarino in Spain) and Trajadura from the Minho region in northern Portugal. It holds well if we don’t kill the bottle (or it goes into dinner), it’s cheap enough to open up at any time, and it’s fresh and flavorful.
The Quinta do Feital Vinho Regional do Minho “Auratus” 2009 is like the above quaffer after it’s really had time to “fill out”. Or maybe like seeing the daughter (or son) of family friends at camp – someone that you haven’t seen since she was just a stripling, but now, 3 or 4 years hence – WOW – she’s willowy, gangly, and sassy no more…
These two wines are made from the same grape blend, grown in the same region, and are harvested from the same vintage, but in some respects, they are worlds apart. Our quotidian sipper is nervy, prickly, minerally, and briney/aromatic. The Auratus is full, sweetly scented, fleshier, and more confident. These wines have a common frame, a common spirit, but their respective details are spoken in very different voices.
I served this pretty white with a salad of red leaf lettuce, pickled sweet yellow peppers, yellow tomatoes, and cucumbers with a garlic and cilantro vinaigrette, and medium-fluffy Mealhoa rolls. The main course was barbecue-grilled thin ham cutlets I marinated in orange and lemon zest and juice, bay leaves, garlic, and allspice, and small white beans with parsley and sage.
Bright yellow gold color. Piercing nose of pollen-rich white flowers, grapefruit, cooked grains, and subtle buttery notes. The palate is cohesive, focused, and intense with a rounded, slightly oily mouthfeel, surrounding flavors of sugared grapefruit, sweet herbs, and lemon oil. The flavor and structure cleanly persist on the tongue.