Verdant Vinho Verde: Portugal’s “green wine” brings freshness and fruit to the glass

April 4, 2011 9:22 am - Posted by Tracy Ellen Kamens in Drink, Learn

Produced in Portugal for over 2,000 years, Vinho Verde literally translates as “green wine”. Yet, the name actually refers to the wine’s youngness and freshness, rather than its color in the glass. In fact, while many people are familiar with white-hued Vinho Verde, it is also made as rosé and red wines and in still and sparkling styles.

With a lush, green landscape reminiscent of Ireland, the Minho region, where Vinho Verde is made, sits along the country’s northern coast and provides the perfect climate for crafting wines with nice fruit flavors, vibrancy on the palate and low alcohol.

And, indeed these wines are extremely fresh. Wines tasted at a recent trade event showed crisp acidity levels that screamed for shellfish and citrus-accented cuisine. Fruity aromas and flavors in the white wines centered on citrus, lime, minerality and, for a few, a touch of salinity. Featuring indigenous varieties, the white wines are frequently a blend of Loureiro, Alvarinho (the same grape as Spain’s Albariňo), Arinto, and Trajadura, although there is an increasing emphasis on single-variety wines, particularly at higher quality levels. Red and rosé wines are dominated by Vinhão, but do contain other local varieties as well.

Broadbent Selections NV
This beautifully balanced wine brings together the Trajadura and Arinto grapes. Showing a hint of floral on the nose, the palate is dry with the slight spritz, often associated with Vinho Verdes. Flavors of citrus, lime, blossom, and minerality culminate in long length.

Provam Portal do Fidalgo 2009
A 100% Alvarinho wine, the nose is bright with floral and citrus character. Piercing acidity is balanced by ripe lemon/lime fruit, pith and salinity on the palate. This wine shows both intensity and concentration.

Quinta de Carapeços Reserva 2008
Having been aged in oak, this wine was among the more unique productions displaying wood and a slightly oxidative note on the nose. The textural palate was dry, with high acidity and a richness and weight to it. The oak and oxidative qualities were joined by flavors of lemon and grapefruit.

Aveleda Castel Garcia Rosé 2010
A blend of Vinhão, red Azal and Borraçal, this wine displays notes of strawberry and melon, which persist on the dry palate, along with lively acidity and good length.

Quinta de Santa Maria Touriga Nacional 2009

Interestingly, this red wine was not served chilled as another producer had done for its red sample. Aromas of cherry and dried herbs greeted the nose, with similar flavors echoing on the palate. The wine was dry with high acidity, finishing in medium+ length.

Written by Tracy Ellen Kamens, Ed.D., DWS, CWE

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