Vino Verde

Vinho Verde

Vinho Verde is the biggest wine producingVinho_Verde.jpg region in Portugal, located up in the cool, rainy, verdant north west. The vines grow in fertile, granite soils along rivers that flow from the mountains of the east to burst out into the ocean between golden surfing beaches.

Across the vast expanse of north-west Portugal, a lush, green mantle flows from craggy mountain peaks and blanketing hinterland valleys sweeping down to the sea. From Melgaço to Vale de Cambra, and 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 nestle amongst the vegetation. This densely-populated, fertile land is the birthplace of Vinho Verde.

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, a romantic night in... Vinho Verde is great with salads, fish, seafood, vegetable dishes, citrus sauces and Asian foods. On the international market Vinho Verde is renowned for its white wines, however you can also try red Vinho Verde. Like the white, it is light and fresh, best served chilled, and a favourite with the locals in traditional restaurants. It’s a fantastic match for grilled sardines. Vinho Verde can also be rosé, or sparkling.  

 


Sub-regions

Climate varies considerably across the Vinho Verde region, and this is reflected in the nine subregions, 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 specialty of the sub-region Monção and Melgaço in the northern part of the Vinho Verde Region. Rainfall here is lower, and in the summer, temperatures are noticeably higher than in the rest of the region. In this microclimate, the Alvarinho grape gives a full-bodied dry wine with a complex, subtle, fresh aroma reminiscent of apricots, peaches and citrus fruits, and a distinctive mineral quality, with smoky qualities.

To the south of Monção and Melgaço are the sub-regions Lima, Cávado and Ave. Here the main grape variety is the delicious Loureiro, sometimes also the Pedernã (or Arinto) and Trajadura. The wines here are typically fresh and aromatic, often with a scent of citrus and blossom. The hilly sub-regions of Basto and Sousa generally also produce light wines, from various grape varieties. In the sub-regions Amarante and Baião, the Avesso grape gives dry, creamy, mineral white wines. Amarante and Paiva, the latter located south of the River Douro, have a reputation for their reds.

Past and Future

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 vines scrambled up trees and over high-flung pergolas, many of the region’s vineyards today are trained along modern, wired rows, so that 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 (varying according to sub-region): 

Main red grapes (varying according to sub-region):

  • Alvarelhão, Amaral, Borraçal, Espadeiro, Padeiro, Pedral, Rabo de Anho and Vinhão.