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Aug 26, 2019

If you think Vinho Verde (pronounced veeng-yo vaird) is just a fizzy summer sipper, we're about to open up a new world for you in this show. You CAN get the run of the mill stuff but with multiple grapes, regions, and producer styles, if you dig deeper this wine has way more to it than you think!

 

Overview

  • Vinho Verde is not a grape variety, it is a DOC (wine area)
  • It literally translates to  'green wine' but means young wine – wine released 3-6 months after the grapes are harvested
  • This is one of Portugal’s largest regions:
    • 21,000 ha/51,000 acres of vineyards are planted -- 9% of the total in Portugal
    • 19,000 growers – like Champagne, 600 bottlers
    • 85 million liters of wine each year
  • 86% of the wine from Vinho Verde is white

 

What wine is here? 

  • Red, white, rosé, or sparkling. Can be late harvest OR brandy!
  • If labeled with grape, subregion or quality level (Escolha, Grande Escolha, Superior, Colheita Selectionada
  • Top white grapes: Alvarinho, Arinto, Avesso, Azal, Batoca, Loureiro, and Trajadura
  • Top red grapes: Amaral, AzalbTinto, Borraçal, Brancelho, Espadeiro, Padeiro, Pedral, Rabo de Ovelha and Vinhão

Winemaking:

  • The wine was fizzy because malolactic fermentation took place in the bottle as it sat on the shelf! Today, carbonation is added to finished wine to add sparkle

Wine style:

  • Light and fresh whites: high natural acidity, with fruity and floral aromas that depend on the grape variety
  • Have slight sparkle with low alcohol

 

History

  • Vinho Verde produced wine for over 2,000 years, one of the oldest regions in Portugal
  • Celts and Romas came, then Visigoths and Moors
  • During middle Ages: Vinho Verde may have been exported in the 12th century, to England, Germany, and Flanders – especially from top regions of Monção and Melgaço and Ribeira de Lima
  • Maize arrived in the 16th century alog with regulations to maximise production of it
    • New regulations banished vines to the field margins, where they grew up high, forcing the vignerons to pick them from tall ladders
    • Today most of Vinho Verde Region is now using modern methods, which give larger and better yield.
  • EU in 1986 improved technology – more capital, opened up the markets 

 

Location/Land:

  • Vinho Verde is Portugal’s northernmost wine producing region, above 40° latitude 
  • Series of granite-based plateaus within the valleys of the Minho, Ave, Cávado, and Lima rivers 
  • Most of the Vinho Verde region is at or near sea level -- highest elevation at 2,300 feet

Climate:

  • Temps go between 46°F (8°C) in winter and 68°F (20°C) in the summer – green landscape, temperate climate
    • Cooler coastal regions like Lima, Cávado and Ave -- more marine influence with cooler average temperatures and higher rainfall
    • inland subregions - Baião and Basto are both warmer
  • Annual rainfall is high – 47+ inches (1200 mm) in the winter and spring months

 

Subregions: 9, can be on the label with the name Vinho Verde


Monção e Melgaço: Best region, but least typical Vinho Verde

  • Inland DOP subregion, along the hillsides of the Minho River’s south bank
  • White: Alvarinho is best. Fresh but fuller than Rias Baixas, occasionally with some oak
  • Reds: Pedral, Alvarelhão 

 

Lima: 

  • Highest levels of rainfall.
  • Granitic soils and a small area with shale-based soil.
  • White: Loureiro grape: citrus fruits, rose notes, can be full like Alvarinho 
    • Use whites Arinto and Trajadura
  • Red: Vinhão and Borraçal – crunchy, crisp fruity aroma

 

3 Similar regions: Cávado, Ave, Sousa -- Mild

  • Sea winds, irregular topography, low altitude, mild climate,
  • Whites: Arinto, Loureiro and Trajadura with moderate acidity, citrus fruits and ripe apple and pears.
  • Reds: Vinhão and Borraçal grapes (not in Ave but in Cávado and Sousa)
    • Sousa: Espadeiro is often used to make rosé wines.

 

Basto: inland – HOT with high rainfall

  • High altitude, cold, wet winter, balls hot summer
  • White:  Azal is lemony with green apple notes
  • Reds: Espadeiro, Rabo-de-Anho 

Amarante: Inland

  • White: Azal, Avesso -- higher alcohol, more body because of heat
  • Red: Amarante sub-region is famous for its red wines: especially Vinhão variety

 

Paiva: 

  • Red: Vinhão gets great maturity and produce some of the most sought-after red wines

 

Baião: Inland/continental

  • On the border of Douro demarcated region, longer season 
  • Whites: Azal and Avesso (best ones from Avesso, creamy, fruity, with acidity)
  • Red:  Amaral 

 

Food Pairing:

  • Salads, Asian cuisine, bacalao (cod) and other seafood, in cream sauce or breaded; pork and potato dishes

 

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