Anselmo Mendes’ Parcela Única. And the incredible wine that was born there!
It should be said that I don’t write these lines because this is an Anselmo Mendes wine. Anselmo is the most influential person in my professional life, but in this blog I will discuss a lot of different matters, namely wines that I have nothing to do with. It is, however, a happy coincidence that the first highlighted wine is the 2009 Parcela Única, precisely an Anselmo Mendes white wine. By choosing this wine I am also acknowledging the master. And does he deserve it!
It’s no wonder they call him “master”! Anselmo has studied the Alvarinho like no other, he knows how the variety behaves under a varying set of circumstances and has tested it in a different vinification processes. He’s been at it for decades and, to be fair, he discovered new Alvarinhos in the Alvarinho, enhancing a radical shift in the national and international perception of this variety. Anselmo Mendes helped turn the Alvarinho into a world class wine.
The Parcela Única (Unique Plot) was born out of this constant experimentation. Anselmo chose this name because the wine is produced in a very special plot of just 2 hectares in Monção. Set in a slight slope with a heavily granitic soil, this vineyard is almost 20 years old and Anselmo says that the vine does all the work for him. I would rather say that there is a balance between the work of nature and men, because at the end of the day decisions have to be made.
So this wine begins to define itself in the vineyard and its secret is in a long and quite balanced aging process; the best bunches — those carrying the most mature grapes — are picked in the right moment. There is always a second harvest, but those grapes don’t go into the Parcela Única.
At the winery, the fermentation always occurs in new French oak barrels and, precisely because of that, this wine is never subdued by wood. Mineral, citric, rich on the palate, this is one of the most voluminous white wines I have ever tasted. Just like the great white wines of the world, it gets better each year, adding new layers to its already complex and rich nature. I believe this Parcela Única will turn out to be the greatest achievement ever with this variety. It is unique and markedly defined by the terroir where it was born in. At the blind tastings that Anselmo hosts to showcase his wines, this is often the number one choice. There’s a reason for that. I remember the first time I ever tasted it. Is this really an Alvarinho? Is this really a Portuguese White wine, so delicate and elegant? Or is it perhaps a Burgundy?
One of the best things in the life of a winemaker is that we get to spend time drinking the wine of other winemakers. And learning from them! I have kept some bottles of this “Parcela Única” at my place, and they keep surprising me. If you ever come across one of these precious bottles in a wine shop, do yourself a favor and get it!