Finally, we are seeing a glimmer of summer in the air and saying goodbye to big and rich red wines. It’s time to enjoy lighter and more refreshing white wines, like Vinho Verde. Vinho Verde, however, seems to struggle with its popular image as an inexpensive, low in alcohol, fizzy wine. I am happily discovering today that Vinho Verde offers a wider range of styles to choose from.
If you are new to Vinho Verde, start with classics, such as Broadbent and Quinta da Aveleda. As with the majority of Vinho Verde, these two are made from blends of grapes permitted in the DO: Alvarinho, Loureiro, Avesso, Trajadura, Arinto, and Azal are just a few. This unoaked, clean, and zesty style has appealed to a large number of audiences for decades.
What’s recently happening in the region is a shift toward the production of single-varietal wines. Focusing on a single varietal gives winemakers the chance to bring out the best of what the individual grape can offer, thus resulting in a higher quality wine. Quinta do Raza “Dom. Diogo” is made exclusively from the Arinto grape. The grape is believed to have originated in southern Portugal and makes lemony, fresh mineral whites.
“Passaros” is another example of a single-varietal Vinho Verde. This is 100% Loureiro from a leading producer, Anselmo Mendes. Mendes produces magnificent wines year after year, ever since his first vintage in 1998. The wine opens up with distinctive aromas of orange and acacia blossom, followed by yellow plum, apple, and a hint of fresh herbs. His Alvarinho “Muros de Melgaco” is also worth seeking out if you like to explore the region’s adventurous side. The wine is fermented and aged in French barrels, offering a powerful and intense style of Vinho Verde. This wine is quite broad, with raw nuts and baked fruit flavors.
Floral rosés and grippy reds also add wealth to the region. Las Lilas Vinho Verde rosé is an excellent pick to enjoy on a hot summer day. It is a blend of Vinhao, Borracal, and Espadeiro, with juicy watermelon and raspberry characteristics. Quinta da Lixa Red Vinho Verde is bright with grippy tannins. Crushed berries and purple flowers are typical flavors found in red Vinho Verde. Chill the bottle and enjoy with liver patés or cured meats.