The Other Side of Vinho Verde
Light. Fizzy. Fun. These three words essentially sum up the style of white wines coming out of Portugal’s Vinho Verde DOC. While they aptly describe the style of many of the region’s wines, there are others that are fuller, richer, and more “serious” (for lack of a better word).
“Most popular Vinho Verde wines are young, light and fresh white wines which are traditionally paired with light dishes such as salads, seafood, fish and other options,” informs Manuel Pinheiro, a member of the Comissão De Viticultura Da Região Dos Vinhos Verdes (CVRVV). “In general, the Vinho Verde region produces two different sub-styles: young, light, and fresh, and a premium style that is intense, complex and mineral-driven.”
Pinheiro notes that the premium wines “…have more intense and concentrated flavours, pronounced minerality, and distinct savoury notes. They often come from lower-yield vineyards and have greater aging potential.”
The half-dozen wines to follow all fall into the “premium category. Due to the savoury and mineral notes found in practically all of them to some degree, I’d be inclined to generally put them into the “food wine” category.
Via Latina Alvarinho 2018 ($18)
Apple peel, lime, stone fruit, and mineral aromas, with mild tropical/almond/coconut notes as well. Mid-weight, and crisp on the palate, it offers flavours of apple and peach. A very refreshing style, with nice balance, and a medium-length finish.
Quinta de Azevedo Reserva 2019 ($18)
Fresh and fragrant, with hints of pineapple, melon, white flower blossom, flint, and anise. In the mouth it’s nicely balanced and clean, showing hints of lime, mineral, anise, almond, and green apple. The finish is crisp and clean. I found this wine opened up more both aromatically in terms of flavour with some aeration.
Quinta da Lixa Alvarinho “Pouco Comum” 2020 ($18)
Lots of banana, Juicy Fruit gum, vanilla, and almond on the nose. Traces of mild rosemary, sage, and citrus peel add to the complexity. Lively, with a bare hint of spritz, the flavours suggest tropical/melon fruit that segue to clean, citrus-laced end notes.
Adega Ponte de Lima Loureiro Colheita 2020 ($20)
Aromatically, this wine, from the indigenous Loureiro grape, offers some dried herb notes and mild honey, along with some mango and citrus peel undertones that give way to a zesty, slightly spritzy mouthfeel, and lemon and honeydew flavours, and a tropical fruit finish; nice balance.
Morgadio da Torre Alvarinho 2019 ($20)
Another single varietal offering, this time incorporating the Alvarinho grape. There are traces of white flower blossom. orange zest, lemon curd, and candied almond on the nose. Flavour-wise, the wine tends towards fresh citrus and stone fruit, but there are also notes of herb, anise, almond, and flint. Quite complex.
Arca Nova Alvarinho Minho GI 2020 ($22)
The engaging nose of this 100 per cent Alvarinho white shows yellow plum, quince, acacia, and wet stone. It’s fairly rich and full in the mouth, with layers of cooked lemon and baked apple, enhanced by some wet stone minerality. The long finish shows notes of apple skin and flint.
photos from the Wines of Portugal website