Life Wine

Saturday 23 August 2014

Wine: Portugal's Vinho Verde

Liam Campbell

Published 07/06/2014 | 02:30

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Vines in Portugal are generally trained high.
Vines in Portugal are generally trained high.

Portugal's most northerly wine region, the lush and verdant Vinho Verde means literally "green wine".

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(In Portuguese, the H is pronounced as a Y.) Its name has nothing to do with the emerald landscape, instead it implies a wine best enjoyed in the exuberance of its youth.

The wines typically are light-bodied with lower levels of alcohol – around 9pc-11pc – and sometimes with a little spritz from CO2 added before bottling for increased lively freshness.

The popular whites are made from a blend of grapes, most notably Alvarinho, Portugal's finest white grape. Also grown further north in neighbouring Rias Baixas in Spain as Albariño. It's famed for its refreshing lemony acidity and giving structure to the wines.

Loureiro is the most aromatic of the Vinho Verde's white varieties with its musky-grapey perfume, flowers and mineral. While Trajadura is scented with apple and grapefruit adding body and length.

Visually, the traditional vineyards are dramatically different from most modern practices of low trained vines in narrow rows, supported on wires to facilitate hand-picking. To avoid rot attacking the fruit from the Atlantic's humidity during the summer heat, most vines are trained high, climbing on pergolas, forming leafy green tunnels. Grape pickers use ladders to harvest the high-rise grapes.

Go green, tchim-tchim.

Portugal vineyard.jpg

1) Vinho Verde 2013, Quinta da Lixa 11.5pc

Floral and pear aromas. Spritzy, citrus and herbal flavours with fennel. Bake hake with a splash of Pernod.

€12.49 at O'Brien's 32 off-licences nationwide; O'Donovan's Group of off-licences,

Cork citywide; La Touche, Greystones and McGuinness Wines, Dundalk. In Dublin at: Donnybrook Fairs; Fresh outlets; The Corkscrew; Fallon & Byrne; McCabe's; D-Six; Nectar; Sweeney's; Redmond's; Morton's; Deveney's; Red Island and Liston's.

2) Vinho Verde, Gazela 9pc

Obvious spritz in appearance and spearmint fresh aromas. Off-dry with fresh herbal flavours. Ideal with plaice goujons and chips.

€11.99 at Next Door chain of off-licences nationwide and Amber Service Station, Fermoy.

3) Alvarinho & Loureiro 2012, Allo 11pc

Attractive mineral and herbal palate with well-balanced and integrated lemony acidity. Partner with smoked salmon paté.

€14.85 at jnwine.com and The Counter, Letterkenny.

4) Vinho Verde 2013, Quinta de Azevedo 11pc

Herbal and citrus peel aromas and flavours. Crisp and fresh, pithy and zesty. Enjoy with a chunky chowder and shavings of fennel bulb.

€16.50 at Ardkeen Stores, Waterford. In Dublin at The Corkscrew, Chatham Street;

Redmond's, Ranelagh; Martin's, Fairview and Kelly's, Vernon Avenue.

5) Alvarinho Contacto Vinho Verde 2012, Anselmo Mendes 13pc

Concentrated palate of peach kernel and unusually rich in style, enlivened by citrusy acidity. Try with pulled pork and a mustard cream.

€17.99 in Dublin at Wines on the Green, Dawson Street; Baggot Street Wines; Blackrock Cellars; Redmond's, Ranelagh; Red Island Wines, Skerries; Jus de Vine, Portmarnock and McCabe's, Blackrock.

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