Less than two weeks ago I was sitting in the tasting room of the Cooperativa Vitivinicola da Ilha do Pico in Madalena on Pico Island in the Portuguese Azores. There were 10 of us in the group all participating in Wine and Travel Week based in Porto. 8 were tour operators and two of us were journalists. The tour operators were happily drinking up the wine (and swallowing) while the writers (who were spitting) were frantically trying to evaluate the wine in 120 seconds which is no way to respectfully review a wine so much effort has been imparted to make what is in the bottle.
I did manage to contact an agent here in Ontario DOC Wine Imports that in addition to carrying an occasional wine from the Co-op has a tremendous selection of Portuguese wines including sparklers! You can check out their website at www.docwineimports.com
I did try the white 2019 Terras de Lava at the Co-op and found it highly approachable and managed to have DOC Wine Imports send me over a bottle. If you have been to Pico Island it is a beautiful yet harsh landscape with volcanic rock, high winds with vines being protected by walls made with volcanic rock called carrais. Given the temperate climate you really don’t want to grow the grapes at any elevation so the local growers have a saying that you should plant the vines where you can hear the crabs sing i.e. at a low altitude near the ocean.
The wine is a blend of Arinto dos Açores, Fernao Pires, Verdelho and Boal.
Aroma: This golden coloured wine has pineapple, pear, apple, tangerine and orange marmalade. It has a definite Pico Arinto nose to it. I would call it a friendly and approachable wine.
Palate: No doubt that this is a dry white but not one that is overly acidic lacking character. It has notes of lemon, Seville orange with creamy flashes. Moderate finish.
Food Match: Pico whites are best consumed with saltwater fish such as grouper or conger eel or even some of the Azorean spicy limpets or crab. It also went well with softer and tamer cheese like the two cheeses we had from the nearby island of St. Georges.
Personality: I am from a co-operative but that is absolutely no impairment to my quality. Arinto from Pico has a unique flavour and aroma so don’t be shy if you can’t readily recognize me. White fleshed seafood and shellfish are good friends of mine.
Cellarbility: Consume by the end of 2023.
Price: $29.95 plus tax (Ontario). Minimum of six required by order from DOC Wine Imports.
RKS 2023 Wine Rating: 90/100.
(Terras de Lava IG Açores 2019, Cooperativa Vitivinicola de Ilha do Pico, Madalena, Pico Island, Azores Portugal, 750 mL, 12.5%)