Friday, April 3, 2009
No, I am not talking about something eco-friendly. What I am talking about is Vinho Verde, "green wine" from Portugal. The wine is called Vinho Verde simply because it is a young wine, made to be drank right away. There is no connection between its name and the rich Portuguese countryside from which it is derived, a nod to unripened grapes or the wine's color. The fact is, and this is much to even my surprise, most of Vinho Verde produced these days is red wine. (I did not know this.) My mind usually gravitates toward Vinho Verde at first sign of warmer weather.
Typically, Vinho Verde (red and white) is highly acidic and possesses a slightly fizzy character. The Vinho Verde appellation spans from Portugal's Spanish border to just South of the Douro River. The Vinho Verde is Portugal's largest DOC.
Some of the grapes used to make Vinho Verde are:
For Red V.V.: Azal, Vinhao, Espaderio, Sousao, Borracal, and Pedral
For White V.V.: Alvarinho (Albarino), Loureiro, Trajadura, Perderna, and Avesso
Grape vines in the Vinho Verde are trained high in a pergola style, meaning that the vines are trained to grow up columns places in the vineyard, up and across some sort of trellising over head, giving the grape clusters maximum exposure to the sun. This canopy pattern prevents the buildup of moisture on the foilage, which could lead to mildew, rot or other vineyard maladies.
There are 9 subregions within the Vinho Verde, and they are divided according to microclimate and grape variety. They are: Amarante, Ave, Baiao, Basto, Cavado, Lima, Moncao, Paiva and Sousa. Unless made with straight Alvarinho, no V.V. can be higher than 11.5% alcohol. If a wine is higher in alcohol, it must be classified as Vino Regional Rios do Minho.
One of the most impressive Vinho Verde whites I have stumbled across is the Aveleda Fonte Vinho Verde, a light, lively white wine that speaks of warm summer days spent on the patio, hanging out with neighbors or daydreaming with the better half. With its yellow-green color, light hints of citrus and kiwi, and crisp, resfreshing stone fruit flavors, it's a great way to welcome the greenery back from a long absence.