I will admit to not having tasted many wines from Portugal. Most people know of Port and not much beyond that. I happen to be pretty familiar with some of the red grape varieties from the Douro region, Tinto Roriz, Tinta Cao, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nationale… many of these varieties are being grown in Washington these days where the climate lends itself to them growing well.
But white wines from Portugal? My tasting of these wines was really limited to Vinho Verde, that delicious slightly spritzy wine from the North West part of Portugal that borders Spain.
So when I received a sample from Symington Family Estates for this white wine from Alentejo in Southern Portugal, I was intrigued!
*This wine was received as a media sample. No other compensation was received and all opinions are our own.
First, a map of Portugal so we can get our bearings.
You can see the Vinho Verde and Porto, Douro regions there at the top. Look lower, to the east of Lisboa and you find Alentejo, which is where this wine comes from.
The Alentejo region is split into two sections on the map, the Northern section near Portalegre is called Alto Alentejo. Just southeast of Portalegre, about a 14-minute drive, you will find the vineyard, Quinta da Fonte Souto.
This region in South East Portugal has two designations, the Alenejano VR or Vinho Regional. This category represents the PGI wines or general wines from the region. Then there is the Alentejo DOC, which represents a higher standard for the quality of the wine.
The region as it sits on the east, bordering with Spain, has a continental climate (hot summers, cold winters). Wines tend to be full-bodied with good acidity.
The major varieties grown here are Aragonêz (the Portuguese name for Tempranillo) and Trincadeira, as well as Alicante Bouschet. Those are all red varieties. So imagine my surprise when this was a white wine!
Within the region there are 8 sub-regions including: Moura, Vidigueira, Granja-Amareleja, Reguengos, Redondo, Évora, Borba and Portalegre (where our wine comes from).
Learn more about this region on the Wines of Portugal Site.
The Producer – Symington Family Estates
Symington Family Estates is first and foremost, a premium Port producer. The family, run by the 4th and 5th generations currently has been in Portugal since the 19th century.
The family is of British and Portuguese origins (hence the name). They own and run the well-known port houses, Graham’s, Dow’s, Warre’s, and Cockburn’s, in addition to a portfolio of other Douro wines, and their latest venture Quinto da Fonte Souto, which includes the wine we received.
They are committed to sustainability, to treating all the people who work for them equally, and to protecting and conserving their culture and the environment. They believe in minimal intervention in both the vineyard and the winery.
Learn more about this family and their history here.
The Wine – 2019 Quinta da Fonte Souto Branco, DOC Alentejo, Portalegre
The vineyard name Quinta da Fonte Souto refers to free-flowing water (fonte) and chestnut grove (souto). These vineyards sit at 1,640 feet with mature vines in schist and granite soils. What does all that mean? Well altitude means a broad difference between day and night temperatures which causes the grapes to ripen slowly and retain their acidity, the schist and granite soils mean they are well-drained which causes the vines to dig deep to find water and nutrients, this means fewer grapes and more concentration and flavor in those grapes.
This vineyard was the first property that the Symington Family purchase outside of the Douro. It is in the Alto Alentejo around Portalegre in the Northern part of the region
The blend is 75% Arinto and 25% Verdelho. Arinto is thought to be one of the oldest varieties in Portugal. The full name is Arinto de Bucelas, Bucelas being a region just north of Lisboa. The property is on 207 hectares with 43 planted to vines.
The property has 100 hectares that are forested with the chestnuts I mentioned earlier as well as cork oaks. (Portugal is a leader in cork production).
The first vintage for the Symingtons from this estate was in 2017 and they have a winery on-site for vinification.
The grapes for this wine are hand-picked, destemmed, gently crushed then lightly pressed. They ferment in stainless steel and are 40% is transferred to 500-liter French Oak barrels to age sur lie (on the lees or dead yeast cells). They do frequent bâtonnage (stirring of the lees). This gives the wine body and structure and adds those nutty notes to the wine. They then aged for seven months in a combination of vessels: 50% in new French and central European oak, 40% in second and third-year wood (so more neutral, less flavor from the oak), and 10% in Stainless Steel.
SRP $25 – abv 14.5%
My notes were a meld of seeming opposites, “bright but soft, tart with rounded edges, like a gossamer chiffon skimming softly over my palate.” I noted citrus pith, chalk, white pepper, grapefruit, and lemon on the nose and grapefruit, lemon, hazelnut, and vanilla on the palate.
The Pairing – Seared Scallops with citrus butter and hazelnuts on cauliflower puree
Michael was working and I was making dinner when he got home. I realized I had this sample and figured we could do a pairing! In researching Arinto, I found that it went well with scallops, lobster, crab, and bacalhau (Portuguese salt cod), as well as grilled vegetables. I noted the wine had notes of lemon grapefruit, and hints of vanilla, nuts, and white pepper.
So a bit of quick shopping and here was dinner! This dish looks amazingly fancy and it takes no time to put together. About 18 minutes!
This dish was stunning with the wine, pulling out the citrus notes of lemon and grapefruit, as well as the vanilla and nut notes of the wine with the toasted hazelnuts. The sweetness and richness of the puree and the scallops allow the lovely acidity in the wine to cleanse your palate. This was a spectacular match.
Seared scallops with lemon grapefruit butter, toasted hazelnuts on a cauliflower puree. Garnished with sauteed zucchini ribbons and microgreens to pair with a white wine from Alentejo in Southern Portugal.
- 1 - 12 oz bag of frozen cauliflower rice
- ½ cup cream
- 4 tbs butter divided
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp white pepper
- ½ lb of scallops ( enough for 3 to 4 per person)
- ¼ cup lemon juice (fresh squeezed)
- ¼ cup grapefruit juice ((fresh squeezed)
- 1 tbs honey
- ½ small zucchini, sliced into ribbons
- 1 tbs olive oil
- ¼ cup chopped hazelnuts
- ¼ cup of Microgreens
- Cook the cauliflower rice according to the package directions (mine was 5 minutes in the microwave)
- Add 1 tbs butter and blend with an immersion blender
- Add the crème slowly and blend until you get to the consistency you like
- Toast the chopped hazelnuts in a small pan until they are fragrant. Set aside
- Slice the zucchini in half lengthwise and using a vegetable peeler, make long ribbons season
with salt and pepper
- Heat a skillet over medium heat and cook the ribbon for 1 to 1.5 minutes per side. Set aside to cool slightly.
- Pat the scallops dry and season with salt and pepper
- Heat 1 tbs of butter in a skillet over medium-high.
- Place the scallops in the pan and let sear from 1 to 1.5 minutes.
- Turn and sear on the other side for 1 minute. Set aside and keep warm.
- Add 2 tbs of butter to your pan and your citrus juice. Deglaze briefly stirring constantly.
- Add the honey and mix to incorporate (it will caramelize and bubble). Remove from the heat.
- Plate a mound of the cauliflower puree in the bottom,
- Top with 3 to 4 of the seared scallops
- Drizzle with the citrus butter
- Sprinkle with the toasted hazelnuts
- Roll up the zucchini ribbons and place them on the edges
- Finish with a sprinkling of microgreens
You can make this with fresh cauliflower also of course. Just boil and chop the Cauliflower before pureeing.
If you don't have an immersion blender, a regular blender will do just fine.
Amount Per Serving Calories 785Total Fat 62gSaturated Fat 30gTrans Fat 2gUnsaturated Fat 27gCholesterol 175mgSodium 1597mgCarbohydrates 34gFiber 6gSugar 16gProtein 32g
Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.
More recipes and pairings from Crushed Grape Chronicles!
- Gardacho Garnacha from Navarra and Pochas Estofadas
- Côtes du Rhône & Côtes du Rhône Villages – a plethora of flavors to pair with!
- xobc – love, wine, and paying it forward
- Going to school with a sister city-inspired pairing – L’Ecole No. 41 Luminesce and Temaki
- Pintxos and Txakoli – a celebration of Basque Country
- What is Vinho Verde? 5 things I didn’t know about this perfect summer wine
Robin Renken is a wine writer and Certified Specialist of Wine. She and her husband Michael travel to wine regions interviewing vineyard owners and winemakers and learning the stories behind the glass.
When not traveling they indulge in cooking and pairing wines with food at home in Las Vegas.