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Wine Lover’s Guide To Lesser Known Wine Regions – Vinho Verde

January 11, 2020 4 comments

Vinho Verde.

Let me ask you, wine lovers – when you hear the words “Vinho Verde”, what are the two things which are instantly come to mind? Let me guess – it should be “green” and “summer” – am I correct?

Let’s leave “green” aside for a minute and let’s talk about “summer”. Do you insist on pairing wine with the season? Of course, rich and opulent California Cabernet Sauvignon or tantalizing Barolo might not be the ideal choice of beverage for the pool party in the middle of summer. But then would you say that white wines should be only drunk when it is hot outside? Even if you will insist, I would have to disagree – the white is simply a color, and white wine can be equally enjoyed during any season. And to prove my point, let’s talk about Vinho Verde.

Oh, and let’s address the “green” thing – there nothing green about Vinho Verde. “Verde” here refers to the young wines – Vinho Verde wines are typically released 3-6 months after the harvest.

Here are some interesting facts about Vinho Verde. Vinho Verde is one of the oldest winemaking regions in Portugal, producing wine for the past 2,000 years. It is also the most northern wine region in Portugal, and the largest, with 51,000 acres planted. There are 19,000 grape growers and 600 wine producers, making over 85 million liters of wine, out of which 86% are white wines, and the rest is divided between Rosé, red and sparkling wines.

45 indigenous grape varieties are growing in Vinho Verde, out of which 9 are recommended – Alvarinho, Avesso, Azal, Arinto, Loureiro, and Trajadura for the whites, and Espadeira, Padeira, and Vinhão for the reds. Vinho Verde region subdivided into the 9 sub-regions named after rivers or towns – Monção, Melgaço, Lima, Basto, Cávado, Ave, Amarante, Baião, Sousa, and Paiva. It is also interesting to note that while Vinho Verde is identified as a DOC (top quality designation, similar to French AOC/AOP), the region called Minho Vinho Regional, completely overlaps Vinho Verde territory, however, its designation is similar to French Vin de Pays (lesser quality requirements).

Vinho Verde wines are typically low in alcohol and pair well with a wide variety of food. Quite often, Vinho Verde whites are also exhibiting very light fizz, this is really a hallmark of the region.

I had an opportunity to taste (samples) 3 whites and one Rosé from the region, here are my notes:

2018 Encosta do XISTO Vinho Verde DOC (12.5% ABV)
Straw pale with greenish hue
Vegetative nose, a touch of grass, sweet basil, restrained
A touch of fizz, lime, a hint of grapefruit, lots of minerality, fresh
8-

2018 Vercoope Pavāo Alvarinho Vinho Regional Minho  (12% ABV, $8)
Light golden
Tropical fruit, candied lemon, sage, tobacco
Guava, a touch of honey, candied fruit, a touch of pink grapefruit. Good acidity.
7+/8-

2017 Seaside Cellars Rosé Vinho Verse DOC (11% ABV, $8, 40% Vinhão, 30% Borraçal, 30% Espadeiro)
Wild salmon pink
Nice minerality, whitestone fruit, a typical nose of white wine if there is such a thing
Underripe strawberries, good minerality, a distant hint of fizz, mostly on the finish.
7+/8-, fuller body than most of Rosé, not sweet at all despite low ABV. It also gives me two new rare grapes (Vinhão and Borraçal), which is always a nice bonus.

2018 Quinta da Calçada Alvarinho Vinho Regional Minho (13% ABV)
Light golden
Intense fresh lemon, a touch of grapefruit, noticeable minerality
Tart lemon, a touch of grapefruit, dry, intense, medium to full body, good minerality, good textural presence.
8, perfect any time you want a glass of dry white.

As you can tell, I liked all the wines. No, these wines are not mind-blowing, of course not. But considering the price, often less than $10, these wines offer an excellent, hard to beat QPR.

Here you go, my friends. No need to wait for the hot summer days. Just pick up a bottle of Vinho Verde, and enjoy it by itself, or pair it with good food and good company. You can thank me later. Cheers!

[Mind Boggling] Price of Wine

October 8, 2013 15 comments

I’m again [lucky bastard] in Portugal, and get to enjoy this beautiful country. Of course one of the first places I have to visit is a supermarket, to see what’s new in the wine section (you can find some illustrations for my first encounter here). My eyes stop on the bottle of wine from the unknown region for me – Tejo. There were both red and white wines, standing next to each other, so I decided to grab both.

Protugal wines from Tejo

Let me give you description of the wines.

2012 Enóloga Antonina Barbosa Vinho Branco Tejo Vinho Regional (12.5% ABV, made from the Portuguese grape called Fernao Pires): Light yellowish color in the glass. Spectacular perfumed nose, resembling some of the best French Viognier – shows bright perfumed fruit, very elegant, not over the top. Very round and delicate on the palate, touch of apricot, peach and white apple, fresh acidity, perfectly dry and balanced. Drinkability: 8

2012 Enóloga Antonina Barbosa Vinho Tinto Tejo Vinho Regional (13% ABV, a blend of Aragonez, Castelao and Cabernet Sauvignon): Ruby red color in the glass. Fresh fruit nose, shows nice ripe concentrated fruit and a touch of earthiness. On the palate, very restrained, dry, touch of tart cherries, some earthiness and light tannins presence. Good acidity and good overall balance. Drinkability: 7

So we are looking at two good wines. Now, let me ask you a question. Based on the description above, how much these wines should cost?

I will give you a few seconds to think about.

And a few more seconds.

And a few more.

Ready? What do you think?

Okay, we can skip the drum roll, but let me know if you expected to see this number.

€1.29 each.

A whooping €1.29.

I think this is pretty impressive, that such a level of quality can be achieved at such a price of the wine. This wine is a private label, made for the Pingo Doce stores, by the Falua winery. Of course as this is the case with the private labels, no additional details can be found on the winery web site.

I also learned about relatively new designation for the Portuguese wines – Tejo Vinha Regional, which was created in 2009 to be used in the Ribatejo region. Ribatejo DOC (higher classification) is retained for some specific areas of the region.

That’s all I have for you for now. There were many other great wines, food and very special experiences, like Port barrel tasting all the way  to the 1970 – this all hopefully will be shared in this blog in the orderly fashion.

So, can you top my quality/price ratio? I will let you think about it. Cheers!

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