Red Vinho Verde: two Vinhãos compared


Vinho Verde comes from the north of Portugal, and most of you will probably have tried one or two white examples. What most people don’t tend to encounter is Vinho Verde in its red incarnation. It’s an unusual wine. Made chiefly from the Vinhão grape (known elsewhere in Portugal as Sousão), it’s very deep in colour (this is a red-fleshed variety) and incredibly fruity, with a wonderful combination of high acidity, freshness and tannic bite. In the Minho region (where it originates) you’d be likely to be served it in a carafe in a restaurant as the house wine. It makes a wonderful food companion. But it rarely travels outside the region, which I think is a shame.

Here are two rather different but lovely examples of red Vinho Verde. Both are varietal Vinhãos. This style of wine benefits from a little chilling before serving. It’s somewhat of an acquired taste, but I love it.

Tapada dos Monges Vinhão 2009 Vinho Verde, Portugal
12% alcohol. Very deep, vibrant red purple colour. Lovely nose of sweet summer pudding (raspberries, blackberries). Youthful, intensely fruity with some sweetness. The palate has a hint of spritz and a bit of grippy tannin, with fresh acidity and lovely primary fruit. There’s a bit of sweet jamminess here. Pure and immediate, like a cask sample. 90/100

Afros Vinhão 2009 Vinho Verde, Portugal
12.5% alcohol. Very deep coloured red/purple. Intensely aromatic with vivid blackberry, plum and raspberry fruit as well as a slightly savoury, meaty twist. The palate is richly fruited with dark cherry and raspberry notes, high acidity and quite a bit of tannin. Dry, intensely fruity and really vivid. Quite delicious with some refinement. 91/100

Find these wines with wine-searcher.com

6 comments to Red Vinho Verde: two Vinhãos compared

  • Yotam Sharon

    In a way Sousao has travelled, to Israel of all places. Crossed in Israel with Carignan, it gave birth to Argaman, the country’s only “indigenous” grape. Meant for cheap wines that would still be darkly coloured, Argaman has proved capable of greatness when planted on cool Upper Galilee hills. I could arrange a sample if that’s of interest.

  • I really love the tradition in Portugal to serve the red Vinho Verdes in bowls of white china.
    The wines goes perfectly with goats meat that have a slghtly acidic character to it.

  • Andrew Halliwell

    They also do the white china bowls thing is some parts of Galicia. Have spent many a happy evening in O Refuxio d’Anton in Baiona, supping on frothing white out of a taza and munching on the free peanuts.

  • A Galician drinker

    If you like this stuff you should definitely seek some really interesting reds currently being made by Forjas del Salnés in Rías Baixas.

    Regarding the white bowls, yep, they’re the perfect companion for an evening of singing and bagpiping (at least before coffee liqueur arrives!)

  • Hello Jamie, nice to see Red Vinho Verde tasted and commented by you. And these two examples are quite unique, a really traditional one and a new way of presenting Vinhão. So if you like tradition don´t hesitate choose Tapada dos Monges Vinhão…of course I´m suspicius. Thank you for elevating our wines, specially this one so particular.

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