Anselmo Mendes Magma Verdelho, Azores 2018
We are talking infinitesimally small-scale production here: less than 10 hectares for the whole region of Biscoitos, and low-yielding plants. The wine is dry, unoaked, tangy and salty.
Terceira Island (Biscoitos D.O.), Azores, Portugal
On the face of it, this is a small family-run operation, involving Anselmo and his wife Fernanda, Anselmo’s brother and now his son, Tiago and a few employees. They are based between Monção and Melgaço, a stone’s throw from the River Minho, which marks the border with Spain, in a little hamlet called Penso. But in fact, Anselmo’s name is seriously well-known in Portugal, associated with dozens of other wines from all over the country. His involvement as a consultant in these different projects varies. In some cases, he is blending and endorsing the wines. In other cases, he is fully involved in viticultural consultancy for his clients, and winemaking and blending too. All this puts quite a strain on his big Mercedes, which drives the length and breadth of Portugal many times a year. Anselmo finds a good challenge hard to resist, and thus it was that the Magma project came about. The vines are grown at Biscoitos, on the north coast of Terceira island one of the Azores Archipelago – almost half way to the USA , crossing the Atlantic from Europe. In collaboration with the gowers from the cooperative of Bicoitos and his friend Diogo Lopes, this project is bringing about the viticultural renaissance of the region.
The Verdelho grape variety does not excel in aromatic exuberance, but it is characterized by its good acidity, but this white has a very strong citrus and mineral aroma. In the mouth it is very fresh, revealing some salinity and a delicious purity and minerality. With Magma we have Verdelho dos Açores. It is reported that cuttings to Australia of Verdelho left from the Azores. It appears to be the same varietal as the Madeiran Verdelho, but different from the grape known as ‘Verdelho’ on the Portuguese mainland.
The Azores (Açores) have been a province of Portugal- like Madeira– since the days of the Portuguese Discoverers in the early 15th Century. Vines and wine have been planted since the early times, on the volcanic soils. Conditions here are different: they need protecting from salinity and from strong winds, so the system of “Curraletas” has grown up, where plants are surrounded by a 3’ high walls, that rather resemble square animal pens (but with no gates!). These are hand-crafted, dry stone creations, made of the black basalt which is all around.
Magma is made exclusively from the grape Verdelho. The vineyards are planted in the so-called ‘curraletas’ of Biscoitos, part of the landscape and heritage of the Terceira Island. The vines grow on volcanic soils, surrounded by magma rocks that protect them from the strong winds of the atlantic, originating a unique and special wine.
Handpicked grapes into 20 kg wicker baskets and carried to the winery in a short period of time. Soft pressing of the whole de-stemmed grape. After the cold clarification a 20 days period of fermentation. 5-month ageing on fine lees with bâtonnage.