Vale do Chafariz tasting by Andrea Smith

Portugal’s Alentejo region is already quite known for their red wines, but do we think about their whites? What I like about Alentejo whites, that set them apart from most other Portuguese regions, is that the grape varietals combined with the intense hot summer heat make for great creamy, fuller-bodied wines that can stand up to their country-style cuisine that is rich in bread, meat and bacalhau-bases dishes. While on vacation earlier this month in Comporta, a famous coastal village in upper Alentejo, I had the opportunity to taste a local Alentejano branco, Vale do Chafariz Selection 2014, from the nearby area of Vendas Novas.
Vale do Chafariz, by winemaker Antonio Ventura, is a traditional Alentejano white blend of Arinto, Antão Vaz and Verdelho, this wine has both a freshness from 70% being fermented in stainless steel tanks and a light richness in the aftertaste from the other 30% fermented in French oak for 4 months. At first sip, you get a touch of citrus and minerality, but then it mellows into riper fruit flavors such as apricot, peach and yellow plum, typical flavors you get from sun-drenched Alentejano white grape varietals. I drank this with both a coelho estufado- stewed rabbit I made the first night, which I cooked simply with garlic, onion, Bay leaf and a splash of this very wine and served over rice, and then saved some for the next night to pair with some frango no churrasco- grilled chicken we marinated in traditional red pepper paste with garlic and lemon. Overall, I preferred it with the chicken, as the touch of lemon blended well with the wine’s initial citrus flavors along with the simple salad we had with it and the grilled flavor brought out its richness. Definitely drink nice and chilled on a hot day after the beach, I would love to have also seen it paired with some nice local grilled fish and seafood, which I’m sure would be an excellent match.
Cheers to summer!
Andrea Smith