The Teixeira Coelho family has been producing wine in the Basto sub-region of Vinho Verde in northwest Portugal since 1769. The family estate, ‘Casa do Outeiro’ was originally a mix-use homestead that involved cattle, cereal crops, apple orchards and a vineyard, although the production of wine was not noteworthy until the 1990s, when Diogo Teixeira Coelho recognized great potential in his family’s land and began making major improvements to the farm and vineyard. While the appellation of Vinho Verde is notoriously lush with heavy rainfall, Diogo champions the unique terroir of his family’s Raza Vineyard which benefits from magnificent sun exposure and protection from the harsh Atlantic winds (thanks to the presence of mountains to the west and the northeast to southwest-running Tâmega River). What was once dedicated to the mass production of wine, Quinta da Raza became a seriously focused enterprise under Diogo’s direction. Originally located in the fertile valley, the Raza vineyards were replanted to the slopes and hillsides which offered even greater sun exposure and ideal, well-draining granite soils with areas of schist and clay. A brand new cellar and modern machinery were introduced, and vineyard holdings were expanded to 98 acres, which today are planted to native varietals including Azal, Arinto, Avesso, Padeiro and Alvarinho for the whites and Vinhão (the sole red).
If you’re used to a spritzy, straightforward and citrus-oriented Vinho Verde, this style is worlds apart! A blend of 60% Avesso and 40% Alvarinho, there is no fizziness here whatsoever; rather, the wine takes on an opulent quality, partly due to having aged five months on its lees (10% of which occurred in oak barrels). Aromas are fruity and floral, hinting at honeydew melon, ripe apricot and honeysuckle. Despite its concentrated, rich flavors including sweeter notes of yellow peach, baked Bosc pear, lemon sherbet and wildflower honey, the wine still feels fairly lightweight on the palate. A cleansing acidity provides lift to the otherwise unctuous texture, and the finish is incredibly long, ending on more of that freshly-plucked apricot flavor. While this would be just fine to savor on its own, it would also work quite well paired with something decadent like a Dungeness crab roll with brown butter!