The work of Anselmo Mendes is recognised in Portugal and abroad, not only for the excellence of the wines he produces but also for the surprising and consistent manner in which he innovates. The fermentation of Alvarinho grapes in wooden casks or the use of traditional vinification techniques, such as fermentation on skins, are just some of the methods that set these wines apart in the world of whites. Focusing on the Alvarinho, Loureiro and Avesso varieties, Anselmo Mendes produces serene white wines that have already won various prizes and distinctions and earned the trust of the most demanding critics and wine lovers all over the world. The original expression of a passion rooted in the past, crystallized by long experience and know-how.
Anselmo Mendes began producing wine with Alvarinho grapes in 1998, in Monção and Melgaço. The winery in the Minho Valley is a place for experimentation and research, where Anselmo Mendes passion for the wine and the region takes shape and flavour. It is a place of reinvention, making each wine an expression of the land at its most sublime, a cultural trait, a mark of character. ____ Anselmo Mendes was born and grew up in Monção. It was then, as a child, that he became acquainted with the culture of the vine and wine production. The Alvarinho variety, and its wine produced there, immediately became a part of his life, to the extent that, today, Anselmo Mendes and Alvarinho are synonymous. He graduated in Agro-Industrial Engineering in 1987, at the Higher Education Institute of the Technical University of Lisbon, and post-graduated in Oenology at the Catholic University six years later. From Vinho Verde to the Alentejo, via the Douro and Dão, with "leaps" across to the Azores, Brazil and Argentina, Anselmo Mendes has undertaken a path as wine-maker, by cultivating a passion in each region, getting to know the voice of each land and trying to bring out the best in each wine. Today, as a consultant, he has had various successful projects from one end of Portugal to the other, and abroad.
- 1998 winemaker of the year by Revista de Vinhos.
- "One of the greatest Portuguese winemakers" according to Parker's Wine Buyer's Guide.
- 2010 producer of the year by Revista de Vinhos
- 2012 producer with the highest rating in Hugh Johnsonâs Pocket Wine Book.
- "The most innovative Alvarinho producer", according to José Penin, the most well-known Spanish wine reviewer.
FACTS about Avesso
Having achieved notoriety for his work with Alvarinho from the Vinho Verde sub-region of Monção e Melgaço, Mendes told the drinks business
that he was now looking more closely at the quality potential of other native grapes from this part of Portugal. Picking out Avesso as the next variety to attract winemakers’ attention after Alvarinho, he said that Avesso is particularly suitable for barrel fermentation and ageing. He also said that it was a grape that is well adapted to the schist-based soils found in the region, particularly around the Douro Valley, mentioning the quality of the wines using Avesso from Quinta de Covela, which is located in the Vinho Verde sub-region of Baião, which surrounds the Douro river. Also famous for the wines from Avesso is Casa de Vilacetinho, which makes wine from a single 30-hectare plot near the Douro, 65% of which is planted with Avesso. “We are famous as an Avesso producer,” said Joao Miguel Maia, eight generation family member to work at this winery, during a discussion with db
last week in Portugal. Stressing the versatile nature of the grape, he showed an excellent traditional-method sparkling wine made entirely from Avesso, as well as a late harvest wine, and a barrel-aged ‘Reserva’ example using new French oak, along with a range of Avessos either made as a varietal wine or blended with other native grapes from the region. “Avesso is the next grape to really become trendy in Vinho Verde after Alvarinho and Loureiro,” he said, mentioning a further important grape in the region – Loureiro is Vinho Verde’s most planted variety. Continuing, he observed, “But Avesso is not at all about aromatics or lighter wines, but about the body, the structure – with Avesso, you look for the character on the palate, it is used to give body to the other grapes, and if you had an Avesso in a tasting of other wines, you would always serve it last.” Finally, Joao said that the name of the grape, which means ‘upside down’, may allude to the relatively high alcohol levels achieved by Avesso, which regularly reaches 13% abv or more, when the laws for “classic” Vinho Verde stipulate a maximum strength by volume of 11.5%. According to Wine Grapes
(Robinson, Harding, Vouillamoz), the grape is extremely rare, and only found in Vinho Verde, where total plantings of Avesso are 730 hectares. Meanwhile, Mendes also told db
that he was planting Caíño Blanco, another grape that is native to this part of Portugal, and often confused with Alvarinho, although Caíño Blanco is much more obscure and is thought to result from a natural cross between Alvarinho and Caíño Bravo. A late-ripening grape, in warmer areas of Vinho Verde such as Monção e Melgaço, Mendes said that Caíño Blanco can reach 14% abv, although it retains a high acidity and can produce a “mineral sharp wine if planted too near the ocean”.