|Jenny Mackenzie: My take on Vinho Verde "Boys of Summer" tasting|
|Written by Richard Siddle|
|Tuesday, 03 July 2012 19:53|
Vinho Verde is a wine marketing gift: alliterative headlines; light, aromatic white wines; numerous indigenous grape varieties; moderate alcohol; affinity to tapas style food; and is helping to put Portugal firmly on the interesting wine regions radar.
Writer Tom Cannavan presented a seminar giving a comprehensive overview of Vinho Verde: 21,000 ha of vineyards in northwest Portugal, bordering Spain, within Minho region. There are nine sub regions. Vineyard land is mostly granite based. There are 25,500 growers. USA is its main export market, Germany 2nd and UK 7th. Vinho Verde exports 15.6 million litres, value 38.4 million euros, making up 40% of Portuguese DOC wine exports (excluding fortifieds).
Whilst being best known for whites, 13% of Vinho Verde sales are red and 2% rosé. There are also traditional method, sparkling wines. The CVRVV (Comissão de Viticultura da Região dos Vinhos Verdes) has booklets with extensive technical information and a modern website, all fronted by an attractive, youthful marketing image.
Vinho Verde may have suffered in the past from low quality perception due to ‘polyculture' commodity grape farming. Vines traditionally grew up trees and on huge arched tunnels, allowing another crop to grow on the ground. However, maximum permitted yields for DO (designation of origin) wines have now enabled quality wine production.
The seminar concluded with a blind tasting of four typical white blends and four single varietals. The audience commented that the wines were interestingly diverse and the more ambitious wines were successful. Mouth watering acidity and citrus notes made many very suitable for food.
Producers of all sizes - from co-op to family - were showing their wines at the tasting. The highlights included:
Vinhos Norte, Norte Rosé, Borraçal / Padeiro de Basto, 9%ABV, looking for UK agent. The eye catching map and words label is matched by modern, spritzy pink wine. The screw cap completes the up-to-date image. Fun and on-trend, it would be excellent for bars and the chiller in delis.
Sogrape Vinhos SA, Quinta de Azevedo, Arinto / Loureiro, 11%ABV, Stevens Garnier UK importer. This is probably the best known Vinho Verde in the UK and the biggest selling brand, offering consistent quality and a bench mark for the region. Torre de Azevedo is a wider production label with a rosé wine to be released soon.
Quinta das Arcas, Arca Nova, Loureiro, 11.5%ABV, Casa Leal UK importer. Loureiro has a distinctive, laurel and sage herbaceous edge, comparatively softer acidity and is very popular as a single varietal in Portugal. Casa Leal is a Portuguese specialist UK importer.
A&D Serviços, Espinhosos, Avesso / Chardonnay, 13.5%ABV, looking for UK agent. An accomplished marriage of local and international varieties, this rich, textured, weighty and elegant wine is one for food. The stylish label and pleasing blend would be a sommelier's delight in white table cloth restaurants.
Vinho Verde has an opportunity to be the next big thing with an evident UK trend for moderate alcohol wines. The zippy whites and light rosés have great potential for ‘by the glass' summer specials in bars, especially as value for money is excellent. The more premium wines, single varietals and reds may need hand selling initially but are suitable for indie merchants and restaurants with their numerous talking points and history, not to mention high quality and cool labels from forward thinking producers.
You can read more blogs from Jenny Mackenzie at her blog www.earlybirdwinenews.com