Blended whites from northern Portugal and southern Spain are some of our favorites, and while Vinho Verde (pronounced VEEN-yo VAIR-ghi in proper Portuguese) is almost always a blend of grapes, the most common version in the market is off-dry and slightly sparkling. More serious, still and dry white blends are often labeled under one of the subzones of Vinho Verde, but the slightly spritzy and slightly sweet style was never mandated by the DOC, and dry, still versions have always existed. Today one can distinguish between the two styles by the bottle shape: tall and slender is spritzy and the more regular wine bottle is still and dry. The slight spritz that is associated with Vinho Verde, incidentally, was originally an accidental consequence of bottling the wine before it had completed malolactic conversion, but in modern times it was intentionally added via carbonation. (Extra sugar was also added to combat the acidification inherent in carbonation.) The term escolha means choice or selection, implying a use of only the better plots in the vineyards and muros antigos means ancient walls, referring to the stone walls that criss-cross the ancient vineyards of the region. Anselmo Mendes is a native son of Monção e Mongaço, one of the nine subzones of the Vinho Verde zone, from an agricultural family that, like most in the area, dabbled in wine for household consumption. After university studies in agronomy, he began to specialize in wine, starting his own label in 1998. He has since been twice named winemaker of the year in Portugal’s most prestigious wine publication and is now known as “Mr. Alvarinho”, the Portuguese name for Albariño. While Alvarinho is the principal grape produced in Monção e Mongaço, this wine is a blend of some of the region’s best white grapes with each of the grapes coming from the subregions most famous for them—Alvarinho (20%) from Monção e Melgaço, Loureiro (40%) from Lima and Avesso (40%) from Baião. The certified sustainably farmed grapes are fermented with native yeasts at very low temperatures and aged briefly on the lees to preserve the fresh and delicate aromas in the wine. Flavors of pear and skin, lemon peel, white flowers, gravel, exotic, apricot pit spice pairs with simply grilled fish, raw seafood, and grilled fowl.