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
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