Hugo Mendes Branco 2018
Style/ Colour White
Grape Varieties Fernão Pires (45%), Arinto (45%) and Vital (10%).
The producer By the time Hugo Mendes, a.k.a. ‘The Wizard Apprentice,’ graduated in Biotechnology Engineering in 2005, he had fallen hopelessly in love with wine. The same year, he joined Quinta da Murta in Portugal’s Arinto epicentre, Bucelas in Lisboa. Learning on the job, by 2010 Hugo had worked his way up from cellar rat to Head Winemaker and made a name for himself with his The Wizard Apprentice blog.
Champing at the bit to work with other native grapes, Hugo launched his own crowd-funded micro-negociant label in 2016 and, in 2019, left Quinta da Murta to develop the range. Naturally, his branco brew features Arinto, Lisboa’s most noble white grape, but the winemaker has also weaved his magic on two traditional work horse varieties - Fernão Pires and Vital. The age-worthy wines of Tomaz Vieira da Cruz from Tejo, Hugo’s region of birth, convinced him of Fernão Pires’ potential. Vital, he says, is “the spice” and makes its first appearance in Hugo Mendes 2018 Branco.
The vineyard/winemaking The grapes were sourced from two chalky clay vineyards in the Alenquer sub-region which, located to the east of the Serra de Montejunto range, is relatively protected from Atlantic influence. With quality in mind, the Fernão Pires hails from a precocious, later-ripening plot that produces concentrated juice. This wine was naturally fermented (the Fernão Pires and Arinto co-fermented) and underwent a partial malolactic fermentation, contributing to its creamy texture. Around 30% of the blend was fermented and aged in used French oak barrels for seven months, imparting complexity and structure.
Tasting note Creamy, very textural, this blend of Fernão Pires (45%), Arinto (45%) and Vital (10%) reveals silky white peach, fleshy, juicy apple and white asparagus. With seamless, balanced acidity, it rolls around in the mouth most pleasurably. If you like Maçon from Burgundy, try this! Just 5,000 numbered bottles were made. 11% alcohol.
(Notes by Sarah Ahmed)
Food Pairing Seared scallops, Dressed crab 'Sapateira recheada' or Bacalhau à Brás.
Serving recommendations Serve chilled at 10-12ºC.
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