|Verdelho is a grape varietal that probably comes from Madeira. Aside
from that tiny island famous for its fortified wine, Verdelho is planted
to a small degree in Alentejo in Portugal; Savennieres in the Loire
Valley (Savennieres, really? Yes); and Australia. In the hot, dry
climate of Alentejo, it is able to maintain its freshness when ripe.|
I might usually select a wine that is more esoteric, however, I cannot
ignore the pleasures of the wines of Esporão, which are always correct
and present a modern sensibility. This vibrant white wine is pale in
color with flecks of green. It has amazing persistence of flavor that
you taste across the palate and continue sensing in the throat: lime
zest, green pear, white pepper, and acacia blossom. Herbal tones, like
crushed anise, contribute to the wine’s structure and impressive finish.
Overall, it is agreeably balanced and refined.
was recently reminded of this wine at a Portuguese wine luncheon at the
Ritz-Carlton in New York. It was served as the reception wine, yet I
found myself holding on to it and revisiting it throughout four courses.
This versatile white works with everything from fish to barbecued
chicken, but it was a particular pairing with the bacalao (salt cod) at
the Ritz that struck my fancy. To begin, this was no ordinary bacalao:
It was the most outstanding version of the dish I’ve ever had. The cod
was tender and not too salty, resting on a bed of farro, which is
slightly chewy by nature. A drizzle of butter sauce was just enough to
taste indulgent and pull the dish together. Esporão Verdelho, with its
persistence and bright hints of acidity was just the thing to sip in
between bites to offset the dish’s savory creaminess.