Anselmo Mendes is the godfather of Vinho Verde and one of Portugal’s most influential winemakers. Producing wines since the late 90s, he is an integral part of the Portuguese wine revolution. Ever innovative, he uses skin contact, spontaneous fermentation, lees ageing and explores different terroirs and single vineyards with his Muros Antigos (ancient walls) range.
Vinho Verde is home to an astounding 45 indigenous grape varieties but here Mendes focuses on Alvarinho in the Minho Valley and Loureiro in the Lima Valley. Alvarinho offers rich, yellow fruit and structure. Whilst similar, Loureiro is known for its citrus-like, floral notes, minerality and elegance. Both produce incredibly fresh and vibrant iterations of Vinho Verde – the quintessential food wine and perfect with seafood.
His 2019 Alvarinho Contacto sits at #37 on Wine Enthusiast’s list of Top 100 wines in 2020. It is deliciously refreshing, yet beautifully textured due to some days spent on its skins – much like one would make a red wine. The 2019 Muros Antigos Loureiro is a richer expression of Vinho Verde and should be everyone’s house wine. Made from the ancient Loureiro grape, it is wonderfully fragrant as its name suggests; Loureiro means ‘laurel scented’. Elegant and complex, this is smashable at only R175 per bottle.
Both these wines are mineral and mouthwatering with great texture and length. They are also absolute bargains and Wine Cellar’s go-to summertime wines. Don’t be surprised, however, if they drink even more beautifully over the next 10 years.
Anselmo Mendes, Muros Antigos Loureiro 2019
The 2019 Loureiro Muros Antigos Escolha, in bottle about two months when tasted, comes in with 1.5 grams of residual sugar, 6.7 grams of total acidity and 12% alcohol. Continuing a trend, this seems just a bit fresher and crisper than last year’s version. The grapes are all sourced from the Lima Valley, the area most famed for Loureiro. Drink 2020 – 2029. – Mark Squires, Wine Advocate, 90/100
Anselmo Mendes, Alvarinho Contacto 2019
From the producer’s home region of Monção and Melgaço, this wine is made, unusually for Vinho Verde, using skin contact. That gives it an extra dimension of richness and fullness. The wine’s apple flavors have concentration and, along with the texture, suggest potential for aging. Drink ideally from 2021. – Roger Voss, Wine Enthusiast, 93/100