What’s unique in Vinho Verde, Vinho Verde Part 2
Recently, I was fortunate enough to visit the wine making region in Portugal called Vinho Verde. The Vinho Verde area is in northern Portugal, bordering Spain. The Vinho Verde region is known for crafting light, fresh, crisp, easy drinking whites. In fact, they are probably the easiest drinking wines in the world, with an equally easy price tag to match. The great value and low alcohol, coupled with the wines’ lively flavors and slight frizzante, make it my go to wine for outdoor activities.
And, while the Vinho Verde region excels at producing these straight forward whites, it isn’t their only wine. There are sparkling wines, rosés and even deep, dark, delicious reds.
My first column centered on Vinho Verde’s wonderful sparkling wines. Today I’m going to write about some other interesting, but lesser known in the American market, Vinho Verde wines. Let’s start with reds.
Vercoope produces a red called Vinho Verde Pavao. I absolutely love this wine. Dark in color, ripe with fruit, deeply layered flavor and substantial frizzante had me reminiscing of the Lambrusco wines I loved decades ago. This wine sells for between $5.99 and $7.99.
Aphros Vinhao 2017 is also a spectacular red. It's an earthy and deeply flavored, but light bodied, red. Anise, licorice, and dark cherry notes make this dry red truly stand out. It’s a steal at around $15.
Another terrific red is Casa da Tojeira’s Tinto Red Rouge 2017. Lovely mouth feel, lush with wild fruits, and balanced with nice acidity. At only 3.19 Euros I hope this wine makes its way across the Atlantic soon.
Most Vinho Verde wines use either singularly, or in combination, these grapes: Arinto, Avesso, Loureiro, Trajadura, Azal and Alvarinho. But a few winemakers are using other grape varieties with great success.
Qunita de Santa Cristina crafts a lovely white wine, Vinho Branco 2017, from the Batoca grape. And, according to Manuel Teixeira, manager of client relations at Quinta de Santa Cristina, they are the only vineyard in the area to be bottling this grape right now. The nose on this wine is a clean combination of lemon and thyme. On the palate there are notes of lemon, and honeysuckle with a soft minerality and a light frizzante. Teixeira said the wine retails for about nine dollars.
A and D wines crafted a white wine from Malvasia. Monologo Malvasia 2017. Malvasia is often found in Greek and Italian wines and sometimes produced as a sweet wine. In A and D’s version the wine has a lovely smokiness on the nose and palate uncommon in white wines. White pepper, citrus and green apple make this an infinitely interesting wine you’ll want to experience again and again. Retails at about $18.
While most Vinho Verdes have some frizzante, slight carbonation, some producers are choosing to craft perfectly still wines that are a bit dryer and higher in alcohol. One wine I found to be quite food friendly done in this style was the Cazas Novas Escolha 2017. With nice melon and citrus notes, it’s an elegant take on the classic Vinho Verde. Tastes more expensive than it’s under $10 price.
Another unique trend in the region is aging. Vinho Verde wines are mostly meant to be drunk young. However, some winemakers are experimenting with aging their wines. The one I found to be the most successfully aged Vinho Verde is the 2015 Pluma Reserva from Casa de Vila Verde. Made with 100% Alvarinho grapes and aged in oak this white wine has a lovely round mouth feel with delicious caramel notes and sells for about $12.