Tag Archives: vinho verde

wine news

Winebits 429: Vinho verde, restaurant wine, robots

vinho verde review 2013Quality cheap wine: The U.S. has become the world’s biggest export market for vinho verde, the green, slightly fizzy wine from Portugal. This isn’t that surprising, given the U.S. desire for quality cheap wine and the Portuguese effort to to upgrade vinho verde quality over the past decade. The wines are much better made than they were when I started tasting them all those years ago, and prices are still mostly the same. One odd bit in the release, though: “As producers throughout the region revamped and upgraded their wineries, many went a step further adding boutique hotels, day spas and tasting rooms to accommodate the growing number of visitors.” Who knew day spas were such a factor in wine consumption?

Expensive California wine: Our wine drinking colleagues in Great Britain have a difficult time finding affordable California wine, reports Harry Fawkes in Decanter. We know about that, don’t we? Fawkes writes about am especially hip London wine bar, where “all the wines that looked interesting from the USA were over fifty pounds, which even for an enthusiast, is a high price to experiment.” Or, about US$70, which is more than even we’re asked to pay here. Fawkes says the high prices were caused by taxes and distribution costs, but mostly because California producers don’t have any incentive to sell wine overseas since they sell most of what they make here. Which, oddly, are the same reasons that are cited here.

I, Winemaking robot: An Italian researcher has invented a robot that makes wine, writes Thomas Pellechia in Forbes. No, it doesn’t look like one of Will Smith’s pals (or Isaac Asimov’s, for that matter). Instead, it’s more like an intelligent wine tank, named Genesis and that holds one-quarter ton of grapes. Genesis crushes, ferments, and adjusts the grapes inside itself, using software designed by the researcher, Donato Lanati. This raises a variety of questions: Does Genesis have a subscription to the Wine Spectator so it knows what’s current with the critics? Was it designed to know to add Mega Purple? And what does it think about terroir? Which gives the Wine Curmudgeon something to ponder as I sip my next Italian wine: Do Data and Picard discuss terroir?

 

wine news

Winebits 399: Wine packaging, craft wine, vinho verde

wine packaging

? Stack those bottles: The Wine Curmudgeon rarely gets to offer advice to big-time financial reporters, but Charles Passy at the MarketWatch website should check out this post about wine packaging. Or this one. Consumers aren’t much interested in wine that comes in containers that aren’t 750-milliliter bottles. That should temper his enthusiasm for something called XO G wines, four 187-milliliter bottles that come stacked on top of each other. He waxes poetic about the packaging, even though there has traditionally been little interest in this kind of bottle. Interestingly, Passy says it doesn’t matter that XO G can best be described as “not horribly offensive,” since wine drinkers will buy the product because the packaging is clever. I wonder: Would he have written that sentence about any other consumer packaged good, advising us to buy not horribly offensive ketchup because the bottle was cute?

? Do grapes matter? A Tennessee craft spirits producer whose motto is “booze for badasses” will expand into wine, so perhaps they should read Friday’s post about craft wine. It’s one thing to buy grain to make whiskey; it’s something completely different to buy grapes from California to make wine in Tennessee (to say nothing of the difference in production techniques). As the line gets blurred between craft products, expect to see more of this happen. How successful these endeavors will be will depend on whether the companies are serious about it, or whether they see it as as nothing more than marketing. In which case they’ll be stuck with a lot of unsold Tennessee chardonnay made with California grapes.

? Lots of green wine: Vinho verde, the cheap and simple and often satisfying Portuguese wine, sold more than one-half million cases in the U.S. last year, an amazing total for a product with no marketing, little brand recognition, and limited distribution. The story doesn’t seem to know why this is happening, though it does make an effort to include premiumization in the explanation even though most vinho verde costs less than $10. That people are buying vinho verde because it isn’t expensive, tastes slightly different from white wine at that price, and is fun to drink has apparently escaped them.

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

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?

Wine of the week: Vinho verde 2011

Vinho verde, the Portuguese white wine, is almost, in the right light, green. It’s often spritzy and can even be sweet. But it is cheap, usually $8 or less, and it somehow always tastes better than it should. So don’t discount vinho verde — and especially if it’s a long, hot summer with too many traffic jams and cranky bosses.

Our vinho verde primer is here and last year’s review is here. Keep in mind that several companies control the market, often selling the same wine under different labels. My retailer, in fact, had four vinho verdes this year, including one for $12, but all four were made by just two producers.

I bought the Caves de Cerca Famega ($7, purchased), which was one of the best-made vinho verdes I’ve had in years. It wasn’t as soft drink fizzy as so many others, and it had more fruit (lime?) and less sweetness. Don’t worry, though, because it’s still light and sweetish, with just 10 percent alcohol. It’s just not as cloying as vinho verde can be.

This is wine for people who want a glass when they get home from work but don’t want to consult their wine oracle about what to drink. Which, actually, is something we should all do more often.