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Arinto, the Portuguese Hock 04 Apr '19

Last week my friend José Fidalgo took me to the release of the new Pêra-Manca vintage. The event, that took place in the Cartuxa wine cellar, was the release of the 2014 vintage of this wine that has become an icon amoung Portuguese wines, not only for the quality but also for the prices that it reaches now a days. It is not new that the quality of this wine is unquestionable and that we have another good vintage of Pêra-Manca, but what really surprised me in this visit to Alentejo was Arinto.

The surprise came as soon as the arrival, when I was served with a sparkling wine. Quickly the sparkling 'told what it was', revealing its secret. In the middle of Alentejo, a freshness like that could only be from the Arinto grape variety.

This variety, today one of the most scattered around the country, is outstanding. Its aroma and strong and tenacious acidity turns it in a variety that can pair with any other in our “hot” Portugal. We are a country that stands by the seashore and is temperate by the Atlantic Ocean, but we are also a country from the South of Europe where the heat, especially in the areas with larger continental influence, is intensive. In a climate like this, the varieties with a pronounced acidity are like a breeze in the hottest days of summer...

Arinto was already famous even before DOC Bucelas's creation, from where we believe to be its origin. During the Napoleonic invasions the Wellington's Duke that led the alliance between us and England against the invader was based in Portugal. The Arinto from Bucelas made such success in that time that the Duke decided to take it as offer to the King George III. From there to the success in British lands was a blink of an eye, winning the name of “Portuguese Hock”, because it was said that the quality of this wine resembled another wines of Hockheimer style who had great reputation among the British and had its origin in the region of Rheingau, in Germany.

It is, without a doubt, one of the noblest varieties that we have. And besides a good companion of other varieties when in lot, is also a friend of the grape grower in the vineyard and of the winemaker in the wine cellar. It is not much appreciated in its solo version, because not everyone falls for its direct expression and unique personality. Explained in another way, it is like those people who are so direct and outspoken that sometimes seem a bit 'sour.' A person like that doesn't transmit much sympathy, but the truth is that its strong character and that sharp ‘acidity’ end up turning it in an unforgettable personality. The Arinto variety is like this. Pure, direct and unique.

 

Hélder Cunha
The wine’s my life