Freire Lobo Dao Vigno Branco 21
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When you consider the wines of Portugal, except for Port, the country's ubiquitous dessert wine, most Portuguese wines reside firmly off the radar for most wine lovers. Sadly, the last few years of supply chain issues caused by the pandemic have exacerbated this situation, and we've barely seen any new arrivals from Portugal. We were delighted last week when one of our local reps brought us the wines of Elisa Freire Lobo to taste. After a quick taste, we were immediately reminded of the high-quality Portuguese wines feature at such modest prices!
Elisa Freire Lobo is the owner and winemaker at Freire Lobo, a small winery located in the village of Oliveira do Hospital in north-central Portugal. Elisa began her career in wine with Alvaro Castro at Quinta de Pinhanços, one of Portugal's top wine-growing estates. While honing her craft with Alvaro Castro, Elisa began farming seven hectares of family-owned vineyards in the Dão.
Elisa took over her family's estate in 2010, becoming the first female winemaker in the region. She now owns vineyard parcels in the villages of Oliveira do Hospital, and Gouveia, in the foothills of the Serra da Estrela mountains. As an unabashed traditionalist --most fruit is crushed by foot --- her mission is to produce wines that perfectly translate the true terroir of her family's estate and home village.
Since her main focus is in the vineyard, nothing is done in the winery to disturb the transition from vineyard to bottle. To ensure the best quality, she uses the region's traditional Guyot pruning method to get smaller yields of healthy fruit. She strictly avoids using chemical fertilizers and pesticides, instead employing a small army of sheep to keep the vineyards clean, fertilized, and free of pests. Fermentation occurs with indigenous yeast, and the wines are finished and bottled with minimal use of sulfur.
Freire Lobo Vigno Dão Branco
The Vigno Dão Branco is an intriguing blend of 50% Encruzado, 35% Bical, and 15% Cercial, featuring notes of lemon zest, herbs, and salty minerality. Depending on the serving temperature, I find it to be a bit of a chameleon. Right out of the fridge and into the glass, it presents the structure and zip of Sauvignon Blanc, accenting the salty-lemony notes. The texture fleshes out when it warms in the glass, reminding me more of Viognier. It's clean and fresh at any temperature and would be a terrific pair with poultry, seafood, and cool salads.