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Vinho Verde

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The Vinho Verde Region

Vinho Verde wine region of Portugal

The Vinho Verde Wine Region of Portugal

Across the vast expanse of northwest Portugal, a lush, green mantle flows from craggy mountain peaks, blanketing hinterland valleys as it sweeps down to the sea. From Melgaço to Vale de Cambra, from Esposende to the granite mountains at Basto by the border with Trás-os-Montes, the land rises and falls. Here and there, towns and villages interrupt the vegetation. This densely populated, fertile land is the birthplace of Vinho Verde.

Vinho Verde Wines

From this unique region and its native grapes comes a unique white wine. Light, fresh, young and delightfully aromatic, Vinho Verde suits all kinds of occasions: a sunny picnic, a restaurant meal or a romantic date. Vinho Verde is great with salads, fish, seafood, vegetable dishes, citrus sauces and sushi. Outside of Portugal it is most common to see the white and the rose wines. Once you are within the country, one can also try the red variety of Vinho Verde. Similar to the white, this red wine has a light and fresh style that is best served chilled. It is a firm favourite with the locals in traditional restaurants, it provides a perfect match for grilled sardines. Vinho Verde can also be found in a semi sparkling style.

A map of the wine regions of Portugal, including the Northern Vinho Verde wine region.

The Vinho Verde Sub-Regions

Climate varies considerably across the Vinho Verde region, and this is reflected in the nine sub regions, named after rivers or towns: Monção and Melgaço, Lima, Cávado, Ave, Basto, Sousa, Baião, Paiva and Amarante. Local grapes vary too. Alvarinho wines (made from the delicately aromatic, full-bodied Alvarinho grape) are a speciality of the sub-region Monção and Melgaço in the northern part of the Vinho Verde Region. Rainfall here is lower, and in the summer the temperatures are noticeably higher than in the rest of the region. The Alvarinho grape in this microclimate gives a full-bodied dry wine with a complex, subtle, fresh aroma reminiscent of apricots, peaches and citrus fruits. Combined with an appealing mineral character.

To the south of Monção and Melgaço are the sub-regions Lima, Cávado and Ave. Here the main grape variety is the delicious Loureiro, Arinto and Trajadura are also commonly used. The wines here are typically fresh and aromatic, often with a scent of citrus and blossom. The hilly sub-regions of Basto and Sousa also produce light wines from various grape varieties. In the sub-regions Amarante and Baião, the Avesso grape gives crisp, dry white wines with rich flavours and a mineral character. Amarante and Paiva, the latter south of the River Douro, have a reputation for their red wines. Light, fresh, young and delightfully aromatic, Vinho Verde suits all kinds of occasion.

Vinho Verde

Vinho Verde Grapes

The quality of Vinho Verde and the local brandies has improved greatly over recent years, thanks in part to better training and renewed enthusiasm amongst today’s producers; and in part to better grapes. Where once the grape vines were growing up trees and over high-flung pergolas, many of the region’s vineyards today are trained along modern, wired rows. Here the grapes are better exposed to sunlight and breeze, and thus riper and healthier. Some delicious wines are also made in the region under the more flexible rules of Vinho Regional Minho, sometimes blends of local and foreign grapes, sometimes oaked.

Main white grapes for: Alvarinho, Arinto (Pedernã), Avesso, Azal, Loureiro and Trajadura.

Main red grapes: Alvarelhão, Amaral, Borraçal, Espadeiro, Padeiro, Pedral, Rabo de Anho and Vinhão.

Vinho Verde: On the Menu

Here is a list of popular dishes synonymous with the Vinho Verde region, complimented by our wines.

  • Caldo verde – a soup of finely sliced cabbage with chouriço

  • Broa de milho – a chunky corn bread

  • Lampreia – lamprey, in season in spring, an eel-like river fish

  • Cabrito – goat often roasted in a wood-fired oven

  • Sarrabulho – a stew containing pork, chicken or goat, the sauce bound with blood and flavoured with cumin; also as arroz de sarrabulho, made into a risotto

  • Huge portions of fine beef, veal, goat, pork, offal, hams and charcuterie

  • More vegetables and salads than in some parts

  • Often the scent of cumin or coriander seeds

  • Fish and seafood, and bacalhau

  • Doces conventuais - small, sweet confections of egg yolks, sugar and sometimes ground almond

Information and map image provided by winesofportugal.info

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