Vinho Verde. It's not just a wine, it's also the name of the region it comes from. It stretches in north-western Portugal between the Douro and Minho rivers. The region is very green, hence the name of the wine (Portuguese for "green wine"). In the flat valleys near the rivers, grapes are grown for cheap mass production, while on the more inhospitable slopes, exciting, low-yielding grapes grow, which are grown for the production of high-quality wines.
In the past, the region was hardly noticed and if you knew it, you associated it with light white wines, which were more reminiscent of spritzer, contained little alcohol, but were carbonated (like a lemonade) and had no aftertaste. The Vinho Verde was classified as a student wine and placed in the same drawer as, for example, Retsina.
The river Mino - border river to Spain
The demand for Portuguese wines is currently quite high. One of the reasons for this is that these wines currently offer the best value for money in Europe. However, this trend is also largely due to the tireless work of some visionary winemakers who focus on quality instead of quantity. They deserve credit for quietly transforming the region and we are fortunate to be working with three representatives of this group: João Cabral Almeida, Pedro Araújo from Quinta do Ameal and the Cerdeira family from Quinta do Soalheiro.
These wineries are far from the fertile valley of the Lima and Minho rivers, where large quantities of uninteresting grapes are harvested to fill said supermarket shelves.
The yields of these quality wineries are far lower than those of their major competitors, but the wine is more concentrated and an expression of its terroir.
In Vinho Verde, white wines are clearly the star. The red wines of the region have so far hardly been of interest and are more intended for private consumption. Rich in rustic tannins, they go well with local dishes such as lampreia in red wine sauce.
The white wines are mostly matured without barriques, have a low alcohol content (around 11 to 12% vol.) and are very fresh and mineral.
The best vines for the white wines are Alvarinho from Monção and Melgaço, Loureiro from the Lima region. These wines have a great storage potential of around 10 years and develop like good Rieslings.
Plot of Quinta do Ameal
João Cabral Almeida is a gifted winemaker and oenologist who does not own land. Such winemakers are also known as garage winemakers because they can make their wines anywhere, including in garages. We have been getting the Camaleão from him for a long time now, a cuvée made from 70% Loureiro and 30% Alvarinho. The 2016 vintage was rated 92 by Parker!
We obtain a 100% Loureiro Vinho Verde from Pedro Araújo from Quinta do Ameal. His 2016 vintage was also awarded 92 points by Parker.
Luis Cerdeira from Quinta do Soalheiro
And of course a Vinho Verde made from 100% Alvarinho should not be missing! We get it from Quinta do Soalheiro. He received the same score: 92 points.
These three wines are the mirror of the region and a wonderful example of what good Vinhos Verdes can be. They are wonderful as an aperitif, go well with fish dishes and are the ideal accompaniment to asparagus.
Here is our selection of Vinho Verde, wines from Portugal.