September Wines of the Month: Vinho Verde on its ‘A game’ – from Alvarinho to Avesso & an Alvarelhão

Named after the Greek god of the sky, Uranus, this is an uplifting Vinho Verde red – photo credit, Aphros

I sampled over 100 Vinho Verde wines in July for my Decanter Vinho Verde Regional Profile, which confirmed that Vinho Verde is very much on its ‘A game.’  And that has a literal resonance. Two of my picks – an Avesso and an Alvarelhão brilliantly lift off the page a couple of new trends which are gaining ground, namely single varietal Avesso whites and joyously drinkable red Vinho Verde.   Indeed, both are joyously drinkable, with delicious fruit intensity, freshness and detail. 

Cazas Novas Avesso Colheita 2019 (DOC Vinho Verde)

Cazas Novas Avesso Colheita 2019, photo credit Wine Mason

Quinta de Covela can take a bow for unmasking the potential of single varietal Avesso from the Baião sub-region (my 2013 report here) and they continue to make highly sophisticated, gastronomic examples.  More fruit-focused, this example from the Coutinho family’s estate – Quinta de Guimarães – put me in mind of Alsace, with its rich, honeyed apricot fruit, floral notes and fresh, focused acidity.  Lovely length and line, with intensity and mouthfeel.  On song. 12.5% Imported into Ireland by Wine Mason, it retails for €15-16 at a host of Dublin wine merchants, including WinePair, Mortons Ranelagh, Sweeneys D3, Greenman Wines, The Corkscrew, DrinkStore Stoneybatter, Baggot Street Wines, Gibneys Malahide and, outside Dublin,The Wine House Trim, Wicklow Wine Co.,  ElyStore Maynooth, Bradleys Cork, 1601 Kinsale.

Aphros Ouranus 2018 (Wine of Portugal)

Simplesmente Vinho 2018

Vasco Croft of Aphros/Phaunus

Campolargo, in Bairrada, introduced me to the delights of Alvarelhão (reviewed in this post), which seems very well suited to vin de soif styles.  Aphros have always made red Vinho Verde with fervour, initially focusing on Vinhão (and making probably the best examples you can find).  With its wilder, more assertive acid and tannin profile, Vinhão is arguably better suited to vin de garde styles, although less extracted examples can charm too.  But if being charmed is the objective, this new red Vinho Verde fits the bill perfectly and, with an element of whole bunch (25%) and ageing in chestnut barrels, the charm goes beyond skin-deep. Beguiling white pepper lift to the nose and round but delicate palate, with its red plum fruit and a sweet, nutty, jammy quality almost, but for the fresh, pulsing acidity.  Perfumed orange peel and spicy clove and anise accented tannins lightly steal over the palate, bringing interest and depth to the finish.  Amazingly, given its intensity, Ouranus weighs in at just 11%  Another skilfully executed addition to this leading biodynamic Vinho Verde producer’s burgeoning range with, according to Vasco Croft, another red from another “long-forgotten” variety in the wings….  Watch this space.  £24.35 at Portugal Vineyards
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