Vinho Verde is produced in Portugal’s largest wine region, located in the northwest of the country and bordered at north by the river Minho and at west by the Atlantic Ocean. Intense precipitation and mild temperatures throughout the year contribute to the region’s “green atmosphere” that inspired the wine name: Vinho Verde direct translation is Green Wine!
From this unique region comes a unique white wine extremely fresh, young, light, and aromatic that suits all kinds of occasions as it matches perfectly with seafood, fish, salads, and even sushi.
Outside Portugal, it is most common to see white and the rose wines, but once you are in the country, you also have the privilege to try the red variety of Vinho Verde. Similar to the white, this red wine has a light and fresh style and it is very popular within locals as it provides a perfect match for grilled sardines, one of Portugal’s national dishes.
At Quinta do Xisto you can spot traditional vine growing over pergola structures
Nine sub-regions compose Vinho Verde DOC, all named after towns or rivers: Monção and Melgaco, Cávado, Lima, Ave, Basto, Sousa, Baião, Amarante and Paiva.
Monção and Melgaço are located in the northern part of the Vinho Verde region, a place with lower rainfall and higher temperature when compared with the rest of the territory. In this microclimate, Alvarinho is the most popular grape variety, producing a full-bodied dry wine with a complex and fresh aroma reminiscent of citrus fruits and peaches.
Travelling south, you will find the sub-regions Cávado, Lima and Ave that produce a very fresh and aromatic wine, often with a scent of citrus. Main grape varieties used here are Loureiro, Arinto and Trajadura.
Basto, Sousa and Baião sub-regions also produce dry light wines with rich flavours and mineral presence in tasting.
Finally, Amarante and Paiva are the sub-regions known for their fresh, young and highly aromatic red wines.
In recent years, the quality of Vinho Verde has improved tremendously due to the continuous training and renewed enthusiasm amongst producers. The traditional method of growing vineyards on top of trees and pergolas has been replaced in many parts by modern and wired rows that allow grapes to become healthier through increased sunlight and breeze exposure.
Vinho Verde main varieties:
Red grapes: Amaral, Alvarelhão Borraçal, Espadeiro, Rabo de Anho, Pedral, Padeiro and Vinhão.
White grapes: Alvarinho, Arinto, Azal, Avesso, Loureiro and Trajadura.
by Francisco Sobral, Wine Curator