Drink Up Portugal's Spritely Vinho Verde
Choices for summer
Anybody in search of light, fresh and not-quite-dry white wine should make a stop at Vinho Verde’s brand-name wines. They are my favorite white wines for the summer months, because they are so accessible.
“They are part of the new lifestyle for young people, people coming to wine,” says Antonio Guedes, CEO of family-owned Aveleda.
Seasoned wine drinkers will also enjoy the light froth as the wine is poured and the prickle on the tongue these young wines provide. They are the wines that give us the true meaning of Vinho Verde—not literally “green wine,” but wine to be drunk in the year after harvest.
The winemakers, generally large-volume wineries or cooperatives, make a virtue out of the naturally low ripeness of many of the grapes in Vinho Verde. They add sugar to give sweetness to the wines, although it is never cloying. The crisp acidity cuts right through, making the wines refreshing. And low ripeness brings low alcohol levels—sometimes as low as 9%, but never more than 10.5%—producing wines that are great as summer apéritifs, or perfect for a lazy day spent by the pool or patio.
Purists may dismiss these wines as not true Vinho Verde. I’m not sure I care—I just enjoy drinking them. Look for the most recent vintage available.
Aveleda 2013 Casal Garcia Branco (Vinho Verde); $8, 85 points. One of the most popular Vinho Verdes, this is made in a light, medium-sweet style. It’s very fresh and crisp, with some attractive citrus acidity. Screwcap. Aveleda Imports. Best Buy.
Casca Wines 2014 Cape Roca Fisherman (Vinho Verde); $9, 85 points. Smooth and lightly structured, this is an open wine that’s ready to drink. A dry core gives texture upon which to hang the blackberry fruitiness. Acidity complete this attractive, balanced wine.
Caves Aliança 2013 Aliança (Vinho Verde); $6, 85 points. Soft, fruity and off dry, this is a typically fresh and light-hearted Vinho Verde. Attractive apple and lemon flavors shine through the lightly prickly texture. Drink immediately. Best Buy.
Vinhos Norte 2012 Cruzeiro (Vinho Verde); $9, 85 points. Medium dry, with a creamy petillance that gives a lift of freshness, this wine is fragrant with green apples and citrus. Lively and fruity. Value Vines LLC. Best Buy.