Musings (more like rambling thoughts) of a Cardiff based lawyer obsessed with food and wine
With summer (dreadful as it has been) slipping away and the long slog to Christmas (I have already received loads of bumph re Christmas parties – when will we see the first Christmas display in a shop I wonder, not long I suspect – grrrrr) to look forward to, I thought it opportune to look at wine again. Been a while hasn’t it.
For a summer (hopefully an Indian one beckons) or house wine glugger, Vinho Verde (meaning green wine) is hard to beat. Lowish in alcohol (usually), crisp and refreshing, with a slight spritz (although not always) makes it eminently quaffable and ideal as a drinking companion of a weekend. Great with fish or crustaceans cooked on the BBQ or on its own.
Whilst there are some reds and rosés,
as well as increasingly promising fizz, Vinho Verde is predominately a still white wine.
Vinho Verde is Portugal’s biggest DOC, encompassing an area from the Spanish border down as far as Porto and up to 30km inland from the coast. It is a world away from most people’s idea of Portugal (based on the parched Algave) being relatively cool, green and wet.
A variety of grapes can be use (none probably very familiar to most) in white Vinho Verde, with these being as Lourerio, Trajadura, Arinto, Avessa and Alvarinho (the later being the same grape as the much loved Spanish Albarino).
The green it its title is more to do with this wine being drunk young than any inherent green colour to the wine.
I tend to always have at least a couple of bottles of Vinho Verde in stock as it is ideal drinking material for when friends/family visit. The one I tend to go back to is Quinta de Azevedo (which both Waitrose and Majestic stock), but thought I would widen it out a bit for the purposes of this post. I therefore picked up 3 bottles from various places (all easily obtainable) details of which are set out below.
Calafia NV (Asda – £4.37 – 9°)
The cheapest of the wines I tried by some distance, this was also the lowest in alcohol at a mere 9°. I can’t say I had much hope for this wine, with its garish labelling and the fact that it was non vintage (a blend of wines from 2 or more years).
A mix of Lourerio and Trajadura grapes, the marketing blurb refers to it as being ” Aromatic with citrine and tropical fruit notes “. As far as I am aware citrine is a quartz gemstone. A reference in wine terms to minerality or even slate I get, but this is a bit left field to say the least (otherwise know as bollocks – whoever came up with that needs a jolly good talking to)
It is very pale in the glass with only the slighest hint of colour to it
On the nose, there is citrus peel and maybe a hit of melon.
On the palate it is noticeably sweeter than most Vinho Verdes I have tried, but still has a refreshing quality to it. Taste wise it is tropical fruit, with nectarine to the fore. There was only the slightest spritz to it
I wanted to hate this (not least due to slightly garish packaging and the citrine reference), but it was actually OK and (at a mere 9° alcohol) a decent enough quaffing wine for the price.
The slight sweetness may put some off, but means it will cope quite well with food with a bit of spice in it. It worked surprisingly well with an Indian spiced chicken burger I made the night I tried it.
Nobre Colheita Alvarinho Vinho Verde. 2014 (Lidl – £5.99 – 12°)
100% Alvarinho, this wine has a nice light golden colour with a tinge of green.
On the nose it started off a bit restrained, but after a decent swirl in the glass it gave off aromas of green apples and fleshy (but not sweet) pineapple.
On the palate, there is a nice refreshing acidity to it making it a real thirst quencher. The taste, perhaps not quite living up to the promise of the nose being a bit neutral, was of not yet ripe pineapple and green apple (more of the former) with a touch of peach as it lingered on the palate. The slight spritz gave a pleasing prickle on the tongue.
All in all a nice, if unsophisticated, drop which is good value for the £5.99 price tag.
Tapada de Villar Vinho Verde 2014 (Marks & Spencer, £8, 10.5°)
The pricest of the 3 bottles by some margin at £8, this is a blend of Trajadura and Arinto grapes.
It is a pleasing green tinged golden colour in the glass, with plenty of bubbles evident.
On this nose, it is sharp green apples (think Granny Smiths), which was also much in evidence on the palate. There was much more spritz to this wine than the other two which, with the crunchy green apples and citrus notes, make for a very pleasing and refreshing drink.
Bit more about this wine than the other two I thought. Whilst to me a touch pricey at £8, it is worth noting that Marks & Spencer (as at the date of this post) have an offer of 25% off all wines when you buy 6 or more bottles (you can mix up the bottles). This means you can get this stuff for as little as £6.40 a bottle which I think is about the right area price wise.
I am very partial to a drop (well quite a few drops) of Vinho Verde. Easy drinking and refreshing, Vinho Verde is perfect for what is left of this miserable (Ashes winning – suitable compensation in my eyes) summer. Hopefully we will have a Indian one to enjoy a few more bottle of Vinho Verde.
All 3 of these wines are perfectly drinkable, but even at the higher £8 price, the Tapada de Villar Vinho Verde was the winner to my mind (shading the Lidl Nobre Colheita Alvarinho). The winning margin would be stretched further if I had bought it at the 25% discount price.
Would I buy again? Out of the 3, I am more likely to buy the M&S one than the others. It and the Nobre Colheita Alvarinho are definitely acceptable aternatives to my usual go to Vinho Verde, Quinta de Azevedo.