Monção & Melgaço: The Origin of Alvarinho
Quinta de Santiago is located in the Monção and Melgaço sub-region, which lies between the river and the mountain. It extends from the Minho River valley and its tributaries, rising in the half slope of the mountain, adapting to different types of terrain and reaching reasonable levels of altitude. The Alvarinho of this sub-region is little exposed to the influence of the sea and has, as one of the conditions favorable to its development, the thermal amplitude in maturation, characterized by hot days and cold nights.
This factor contributes to the protection of the aromas and to the persistence of the flavor, retaining its freshness. Young or more adult, this Vinho Verde always preserves its character over the years. In its terroir, Alvarinho brought to life several styles of wines, sparkling wines and spirits. All incorporate some of their most striking characteristics, and take advantage of the experience and knowledge of local producers for its conception.
The sub-region’s natural production conditions: Geology, Soils, Climate and Relief
In the sub-region there’s a main valley, the Minho River valley, associated to the valleys of its tributaries, particularly Gadanha River and Mouro River. The sub-region has a vigorous relief and is surrounded by mountains that integrate the Portuguese share of the great northern Iberian massif and that, on one hand, at the west, the protection from the Atlantic winds and, on the other hand, at the north, south and east, a hydrographic basin of specific microclimate, being able to be globally characterized as a temperate Atlantic climate. This mountain range essentially controls precipitation, humidity and air temperature, major factors in the differentiation of the sub-region.
A determining factor for the characterization of a Terroir is the soil, crucial element in the character of the vineyard and in the wine profile. In this region granite predominates, however in the northwest there’s the existence of large amounts of sediments (clay and rolled pebbles), as well as the existence of a schist strip in the central part of the region. Another determining factor of the Monção and Melgaço Terroir is climate, conditioned by the existing relief in the region. The fact that this region is cut at south by the mountain range of the Minho River valley, does not suffer the typical Atlantic influence of the Vinhos Verdes Region, a characteristic that conditions the specificity of Vinho Verde. What, together with the mountainous alignments of the Galicia Mountain Range to the north, which very close to the Minho River reach considerable proportions, form a mountainous belt responsible for the existence of a unique microclimate.
This microclimate is characterized by being a temperate Atlantic climate with continental influence, with cold and rainy winters and a hot and dry summer. The presence of a significant set of water surfaces (Minho River and main tributaries) induces a regulation of temperatures, which makes the thermal amplitudes suitable for the production of fresh and aromatic wines. The set of these characteristics creates the necessary conditions for the production of the famous wine Alvarinho of Monção and Melgaço, a unique product in the world.
Viticulture and winemaking in the sub-region
Human factors and, in particular, the way in which the vineyard is cultivated and winemaking, accentuate the differences of the natural factors in the region.