Monday, June 18, 2012

To Every Thing there is a Season...Notes On Vinho Verde*


Two weeks ago, I attended the Wines of Vinho Verde as presented by James King of the Texas Wine School. This was a tasting and seminar on wines from Portugal's Vinho Verde region which is located in the northwest part of the country. The first portion of this post was written from those notes.
  
The Vinho Verde wine region has a maritime climate with high levels of rainfall. The region sits on shallow soil over a granite base. There has been a move towards modernization in the vineyard with changes in pruning and trellising to deal with the humid climate and improve quality. 


Vinho Verde is known primarily for its crisp, lightly spritzy blended white wines which are high in acid with a citrus/mineral character and low to moderate alcohol made from local grapes such as Pederna, Loureiro, Trajadura, Avesso and Azal. The two labels depicted on the left are good examples of this expected typicity.

There did seem to be a second style of Vinho Verde white wine at this tasting. The two bottles pictured on the right were rounder, less acidic and had more of an apple/herbal character.

Single variety Alvarinho (aka Albarino) wines from the subregions of Moncao and Melgaco are produced with slightly higher alcohol and a touch of residual sweetness. These wines have a more tropical character. This type of Vinho Verde is becoming more common on the export market.
The Rosé wines are fresh and fruity and are typically made from Espadeiro and Padeiro grapes. At this tasting, we tried two different wines with two different results. The Casal Garcia was crisp with a fresh strawberry/slightly floral character while the Las Lilas was described by most tasters as decidedly odd tasting, a heavier herbal/earthy quality was present.

We also tasted one red Vinho Verde. The reds are deeply colored and tannic. They are made primarily from Vinhão, Borraçal and Amaral grapes. Almost half of the wine production in Vinho Verde is red but most is consumed locally and never reaches the export market. No real comment on the red, it was average and not what I would consider a seasonal wine.

Due to a very hectic summer, I had sadly almost forgotten about my night of tasting Vinho Verde until I was grocery shopping on Friday afternoon at Kroger's. I needed four bottles of wine and I was looking to round out a six-pack for the discountI had added an Italian red to have on hand for pizza night and was considering some whites to have on hand for poolside sipping. 

At about this moment, an enthusiastic wine manager appeared next to me and was very excited to share his newest "favorite white wine" find with me, the 2010 Arca Nova Vinho Verde. I accepted the offered plastic thimble cup of wine from him.


I had to agree, it was an excellent example of the typicity that one is expecting when buying this type of wine; dry, light body, crisp, 11% abv and all things lime (pith, zest, juice)  for aroma and flavor with some minerality in the medium length finish. A nice  summer wine for approximately $7. 

We did enjoy it poolside after our Father's Day festivities, it was light and refreshing and so seasonally correct.  

It may be time, Houston, to put away the heavy reds for the summer and make the turn to the refreshing whites and rosés of the wine world...to every thing there is a season.