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Extended tasting note
Quinta do Outerio de Baixo Vinhão 2007 Sub-Região Amarante, Vinho Verde, Portugal

This wine is a bit barmy, but I love it. You like goats cheese? That's barmy, in that it has extreme flavours, but people don't apologize for eating it, or feel the need to hide the fact that they like it. 

But with wine, people are scared to come out and say that they like things that are a little bit extreme. They don't want to be seen as having improper tastes. It's as if we're insecure in our own palate preferences, and that if we admit a liking for something rather fringe, then we'll expose ourselves as being unsophisticated.

This is especially bizarre when people seem quite happy to profess a liking for that most grotesque of wine creations: the overoaked, modern-styled international red wine, which has as much personality as ......... (I had to censor myself here, for fear of upsetting any readers who could fit into this category). 

Well, here's a wine with personality in shovelfuls. Perhaps too much personality? But it's edgy and alive and fun, and I'm really enjoying it. It's made from the Vinhão grape variety, which is the same as Sousão, a Portuguese grape that is a teinturier (red fleshed). The other famous teinturiers are Saperavi (in eastern Europe), Colorino (in Tuscany) and Alicante Bouschet (in the south of France and Portugal's Alentejo).

This means that it's intensely coloured. When you pour this wine you have to do a double-take. It is amazingly deep coloured (purple/black), with a bit of spritz to it. The nose is vivid and bright with blackberry and raspberry fruit as well as some green apple notes. It hasn't gone through malolactic fermentation, the secondary fermentation that almost all red wines go through, and which converts appley malic acid to softer lactic acid. 

In the mouth it is tangy and fresh with savoury dark fruit character allied to firm, grippy tannins and high acidity. It's amazingly bright with a lovely green sappy edge to the sweet, intense fruit. The mouthfeel is bracing, with firm tannins dominating, but the youthful, vibrant quality to the fruit parries the tannic onslaught really well. The slight prickly from the carbon dioxide adds to this impression of precision and freshness. This wine could cut through the richest, fattiest dishes and is a brilliant companion at table. 

Whatever you make of this, you have to agree that it is distinctive and unusual. The concentration of colour and flavour is remarkable. It's not for everyone, but it's an authentic, high quality wine that's giving me a great deal of pleasure. 

This hails from the Vinho Verde region in the north of Portugal, and it's from the Amarante region, which is the best for red Vinho Verde. For some reason, the Portuguese seem a bit embarrassed about this style of wine. This one is 12% alcohol, but I've seen them a little bit lower. 

I don't know where you can get it in the UK. I picked this up from Lisbon airport for around 10 Euros, although red Vinho Verde purchased in a normal retail setting is usually cheaper. I've had a really good Vinho Verde in a restaurant for just over 4 Euros. Whether this is your sort of wine or not, it's something you really should try. My rating? 89/100, for what it's worth.

see also: Video blog on Vinho Verde

Other ETNs:

De Bortoli Shiraz; Grünhaus; Roc des Anges; Gaillard; Veratina; Arturo; Wynns; Drystone; Foundry and Columella; Meruge; Foillard Morgon; Clonakilla; Latour 1934; Thevenet Bongran; Craggy Range Syrah 

tasted 03/09

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