Portugal’s northwestern region, just above the city of Oporto is vinho verde country.
The wines are not green in colour as the name suggests, but light, acid driven, often “spritzig” and highly distinctive.
The vinho verde district (Costa verde or green coast) is Portugal’s
largest demarcated region. The vines are grown high above the ground on arbours, leaving space for other crops underneath.
The region is divided into six sub-appellations, distinguished by climatic differences and varieties of grapes. The area close to teh Spanish border is known for its alvarinho vinho verde, considered the best of all by many.
Further south around the town of Braga, Barcelos and Guimaraes loureiro and trajadura, light, acid-driven wines rarely exceeding 8 per cent ABV reign supreme.
Around the town of Baiao avesso is the most important grape variety responsible for slightly fuller wines.
However 50 per cent of all vinho verde originate from Azal pederno, vinho espadeiro and a number of high-yielding hybrids that are harsh, low in alcohol and thin of which a good portion of them are red.
All are consumed locally and rarely, if ever, exported. Until 1950’s vinho verde was strictly a local wine, often very young, cloudy and “spritzig” (frizzante). Still local cafes serve this type of wine to their regular guests.
In 1960’s modern vinification techniques were introduced suppressing carbon dioxide, and leaving a little residual sugar in the wine to make it more palatable.
Alvarinho, loureiro and avesso are used to produce varietal vinho verdes, which taste far superior to those blended. All traditional vinho verde are bone dry. Today some contain small amounts of residual sugar.
Portuguese enjoy vinho verde as an aperitif and with grilled sardines and other fatty foods. The acidity cleanses the palate.
Although 40 per cent of all vinho verde is red, 99 per cent of the exports are white. Outside of Portugal vinho verde is mainly associated with white wine.
Vinho verde must be consumed within a year of harvest, but with the set up we have in Canada, this is very difficult to manage, if not impossible. Liquor control boards that import vinho verde reorder when their stocks have been depleted and this make longer than a year. The best route of enjoying vinho verde is to order from an agent and receive it shortly after the wine was bottled.
Varande do Conde 2013 , Provan
Quinta do Minho Loureiro, 2013
Loureiro, 2013, Vercoope
Porta Nova, 2013
Gazela, Quinta de Aveleda (general list)
Are some available in Ontario from agents that import limited quantities, and sell cases to interested parties.