Tag Archives: Portuguese wine

vinho verde review 2015

Vinho verde review 2016

vinho verdePremiumization has come to vinho verde, the cheap Portuguese white wine with a little fizz and a greenish tint. In this case, though, that’s not a bad thing.

Too many of the vinhos in the U.S. are non-vintage blends that are indifferently made, with the focus on cranking out as much as possible. The Portuguese, seeing a chance to upgrade quality and sell more expensive wine in the process, have started offering single varietal and vintage vinhos to Americans. The good news is that theses wines are better than the traditional blends, yet still cost around $10.

Our vinho verde primer is here; also know that the wine can be slightly sweet and should usually be served as cold as possible. These four wines will get you started, but these days, there are many to choose from.

Quinta de Raza Rose 2015 ($10, sample, 11.5%): Find this for $9, and buy a case – it’s almost sweet, refreshingly tingly, and with summery red fruit. It’s a little simple for $10, and hence the caveat, but still well made and enjoyable pink wine.

Gazela Vinho Verde NV ($6, purchased, 9%): This is probably the best of the traditional $5 and $6 vinhos that include Santola, Sonalta, and Famega (and that are made by the same couple of producers). That means fizzy and almost sweet, and with soft lemon-lime fruit. You can drink it all day and barely notice.

Quinta da Lixa Pouco Comum 2015 ($13, sample, 13.5%): Vinho as wine and not as a novelty. That means no fizz and varietal character – made with the Portuguese version of albarino, though it’s a little more tart than its Spanish cousin, with more lemon. Nicely done.

Broadbent Vinho Verde NV ($8, purchased, 9%): A step up from the Gazelas and Famegas, though more traditional this year – more fizz, less structure, but still top quality vinho.

For more on vinho verde:
Vinho verde review 2015
Vinho verde review 2014
Vinho verde review 2013

 

wine of week

Wine of the week: Kopke Fine Tawny Port NV

kopke tawny portThe Wine Curmudgeon likes port. I just don’t drink much of it, mostly because the price/value ratio is completely out of whack. Too much cheap port – and that means anything less than $20 – is not worth drinking. So when I find something like the Kopke tawny port ($13, purchased, 19.5%), I run to the keyboard as quickly as possible.

Port has its own vocabulary and can be quite complicated, but don’t let that intimidate you. Know that it’s a dessert wine, sweet but balanced, and that a little goes a long a way thanks to the high alcohol. A couple of small pours after dinner can make a terrific meal that much better.

The Kopke is amazingly well done for the price, and I didn’t expect nearly as much as it delivered. This is another example of a simple, well-made wine that doesn’t try to do more than it should. Look for fresh red fruit, some dried fruit (plums?), brown sugar sweetness, and just a touch of oak to round it out. You may also notice a sort of nutty aroma, which is typical for well-made port. I’d open the bottle well before you want to drink it; it actually gets rounder and more interesting after being open for a couple of days.

Highly recommended, and especially as a Father’s Day gift. And, if I expand the price range for the 2017 Hall of Fame, the Kopke may well get in.

wine of week

Vinho verde review 2015

vinho verde review 2015There is good news for the vinho verde review 2015, a welcome development after last year’s vinho verde oddness that included expensive vinho verde of surprisingly poor quality. Each of the four wines I tasted were well made and worth buying, and three of them surpassed expectations.

Vinho verde is the cheap Portuguese white wine with a little fizz and a greenish tint, sometimes slightly sweet and perfect for summer. Our vinho verde primer is here; these wines will get you started. If the prices seem high, I bought three at Whole Foods, which isn’t shy about markups, so they’re probably a couple of bucks less elsewhere.

Broadbent Vinho Verde NV ($8, purchased, 9%): Maybe the best vinho verde I’ve ever tasted, in that it tastes like wine and not a fizzy wine cooler. Look for almost apple aromas, apple and lime fruit, and a stony finish. Highly recommended.

Santola Vinho Rose NV ($8, purchased, 11%): This pink vinho, made with red grapes, was much better than it should have been — not sweet, and with a strawberry-lemon flavor. That it doesn’t have much going on after the fruit and a sort of a bitter finish isn’t necessarily a problem.

Famega Vinho Verde NV ($6, purchased, 10.5%): One of the biggest producers offers a wine that is more sour this year and less fruity, but with decent enough fizz. It was a step up from the usual slightly sweet version.

Santola Vinho Verde NV ($8, purchased, 9%): This is the other big producer, called Sonalto in some parts of the country, and known for its crab label. This year’s effort was typical — fresh, spritzy, a touch of lime, and a hint of sweetness.

For more on vinho verde:
Vinho verde review 2014
Vinho verde review 2013
Vinho verde review 2012

wine of week

Wine of the week: Bar o de Vila Proeza Dao Tinto 2010

 Proeza Dao TintoPortuguese wine has become chic over the past year or so, which is surprising given that it has been around for hundreds of years. So what’s different this time?

Mostly that quality keeps improving. The Wine Curmudgeon has written about Portuguese wine that isn’t vinho verde off and on over the years, and the only consistent thing has been its inconsistency. The Portuguese are best known for port, the fortified dessert wine, and their table wines, red and white, often seem like afterthoughts. The whites can be thin and acidic, while the reds sometimes have a heavy, ashy feel to them.

The Proeza Dao Tinto ($9, purchased, 13%), though, demonstrates that the country’s winemakers are making impressive progress. It’s a nice little red wine, simple but not stupid, made with touriga nacional, the primary grape used to make port, plus tinta roriz, the country’s equivalent of tempranillo, and alfrocheiro, a blending grape. This combination gives the wine a rich, almost port-like feel, with plum and berry fruit. It’s not as pleasantly tart as a Spanish tempranillo can be, but that’s not a flaw.

A label note, since these terms are so unfamiliar: The producer is Barao de Vila and the wine is called Proeza, and it’s made in the Dao region, north of Lisbon about halfway between the coast and the Spanish border. Tinto, of course, is red. Drink this with traditional red wine food, and it’s also a red wine for summer — low alcohol, lots of fruit, and something that can even be served a little chilled.

winereview

Vinho verde review 2014

vinho verde review 2014Vinho verde keeps getting stranger and stranger, but that’s the wine business for you. What’s the first thing it does when it has a drinkable, $6 wine? Confuse the issue, of course.

This year, there are varietal vinho verdes, something I’ve never seen before. Vinho verde, a Portuguese white wine that ?s actually kind of green, is supposed to be an inexpensive, non-vintage, simple wine served ice cold, and even with an ice cube. But, in a trend that started last year, producers are trying to take vinho verde upscale, and one bottle I tasted (I did eight this year) cost $13. This baffled my friend Jim Serroka, a vinho aficianado: “Why, when you get something right, do you have to change it?” he asked.

Blended vinho verde, made with three grapes that most wine geeks haven’t heard of, is slightly sweet with lime or green apple fruit and very low alcohol, plus some fizz that’s more like club soda than sparkling wine. You buy it, drink it, and forget about it. It’s the quintessential summer porch wine, which isn’t surprising given the region’s 100-degree summer temperatures.

Most of the single varietals that I tasted, made with one of the three grapes used in the blend, were sour and not in a good way. The one that stood out and was worth the extra money was Anjos ($10, sample, 9.5%) — a little sour, a little sweet, some bubbles, and very fresh.

Otherwise, stick with the $6 versions. The Sonalto ($6, purchased, 9%), known for its crab label and also called Santola, was much as always: Fresh, limey and effervescent, without too much sweetness or the warm beer taste that sometimes shows up. The Famega ($6, purchased, 10.5%) went in a slightly different direction, with more apple, but is still enjoyable.

For more on vinho verde:
Vinho verde review 2013
Vinho verde review 2012
Vinho verde review 2011

Vinho verde review 2013

vinho verde review 2013The damnedest thing happened when the Wine Curmudgeon went vinho verde shopping this year. The wines, usually around $5 or $6, weren ?t that cheap. Most were about $8, and one cost $11 ? a price that seemed to defeat vinho verde ?s purpose.

That ?s because vinho verde, a Portuguese white wine that ?s actually kind of green, is supposed to be an inexpensive, simple wine served ice cold ? with an ice cube, even. It ?s made for hot summer days and it starts to wear out around the time the kids go back to school in September. It ?s slightly sweet with lime or green apple fruit and very low alcohol, plus some fizz ? more like club soda than sparkling wine. You buy it, drink it, and forget about it.

Why anyone thinks they can get more than $10 for vinho verde is beyond me. Are you listening, Broadbent?

Most vinho verde is made by a handful of companies, which they sell to retailers under a variety of labels. This year, the Sonalto ($6, purchased, 9%) was about as good as vinho verde gets — fresh, limey and effervescent, without too much sweetness or the warm beer taste that is sometimes a problem. You may see the same wine called Santola; both have a crab on the label.

For more on vinho verde:
? Vinho verde review 2012
? Vinho verde review 2011
? Vinho verde review 2010

Wine of the week: Vinho verde

A funny thing happened on the way to the annual vinho verde review. I tasted some poorly made wine, which has never happened before, and almost didn ?t do the review.

The thing about the Portuguese vinho verde, as regular visitors know, is that it ?s not complicated enough to screw up. It ?s an inexpensive, simple wine, slightly sweet with lime or green apple fruit, plus some fizz ? more like club soda than sparkling wine. It ?s low in alcohol and needs to be ice cold, which makes it the ideal wine for this time of year. It ?s not made to age, even for a couple of months, and usually wears out by the time cooler weather arrives.

A couple of producers make most of the vinho verde, which they sell under different labels.This year, though, much of the wine was underwhelming. The Gazela ($7, purchased) was sour, not especially fruity, and thin ? more like Alka-Seltzer than wine. The Famega ($7, purchased), usually the standard, was only a little more enjoyable than the Gazela. It had some sweetness and the traditional spritz, but also an unpleasant, almost quinine flavor.

Fortunately, the Casal Garcia ($6, purchased) was up to snuff, fresh and lively. It tasted of very tart green apples, with the right amount of fizz and sweetness. I drank it with linguine with grilled shrimp (lots of garlic and parsley, too), and it did exactly what it was supposed to do. What more can you ask of a $6 wine?