Friday, July 22, 2011

Viva la Vinho Verde!

Summer is the time when most of us put down the bottles of wintry red wines and opt for something light, cool and refreshing. One wine that has recently gained immense popularity is Vinho Verde, or "green wine" - a name alluding to its youth, not color. While Vinho Verde can technically be red, white or rose, the most noted wines to emerge from the region have been lightly carbonated, food-friendly whites that are perfect for summer gatherings. Lower alcohol, crisp acidity and underlying minerality allow these wines to pair incredibly well not only with lighter food such as salad and seafood, but also with bold, spicy fare such as Mexican, Indian or Thai.

The Demarcated Region of Vinho Verde is located in northwestern Portugal, bordered by the Minho River in the North, mountainous areas in the East and South, and the Atlantic Ocean on the west. The mild climate, maritime winds and high yearly rain level provides the ideal growing conditions for a variety of indigenous grapes, such as Loureiro, Trajadura and Arinto, just to name a few. Don't be deterred by these relatively unknown varietals - they have been expertly crafted into delicious wines for centuries.

One brand that certainly stands out is Vera Vinho Verde.  In 2010, long-time friends Rui Abecassis and Bruce Scheider scoured the northern Portugal countryside with the intent of creating an exceptional Vinho Verde. Their search led them to select blocks of Casa do Valle's main estate vineyard, where the vines are between 10 and 15 years old and grow on granitic sandy loam at an average elevation of 300 meters. They were greatly impressed by the terroir and the quality of the grapes, so they enlisted Luis Duarte, one of Portugal's most respected producers, to create their ideal vision of Vinho Verde. Composed of 60% Arinto, 30% Azal and 10% Loureiro, Vera offers bright, refreshing notes of lemon, lime and grapefruit, with a strong mineral backbone.
Broadbent's Vinho Verde Estate

The reputable Broadbent Selections has also produced an excellent Vinho Verde which is shipped in refrigerated containers throughout the world to preserve the characteristic fizz of the wine. Composed of 50% Loureiro, 40% Trajadura and 10% Pederná (also known as Arinto), Broadbent Vinho Verde is light and refreshing with crisp notes of lime and tart apple.

Last but certainly not least, we recommend Adega de Monção’s "Fuzelo" Vinho Verde. Established in 1958, this winery has received numerous awards throughout the years and was named "Cooperative of the Year" in 2007 by noted Portuguese wine magazine Revista de Vinhos. "Fuzelo" is blended from Loureiro, Arinto, Trajadura, Avesso and Azal, and offers notes of ripe melon, grapefruit and peach, complemented by a subtle minerality.

So open a bottle of Vinho Verde at your next summer picnic or backyard barbeque, but don't forget to stock up – your guests will definitely want a second glass.

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

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