The wine territory of the Vinhos Verdes is situated in the north west of Portugal, just below Spanish Galicia and north of the town of Porto. The area extends between the de Minho river which forms a natural border with Spain and the Douro river in the south, between the coast and the foot
of the eastern mountains. The area has the appearance of a natural amphitheatre in which the vines and wine growers play the leading roles in a mythological play.
Wine-growing in the Vinhos Verde can be traced back to Roman times but it is probable that the Celts made wine here long before that as they did in neighbouring Galicia. The wine-growing strength of this region lies in the combination of an ideally suitable microclimate, the suitable soil (granite overlaid with sand and humus) , the gentle contours of the landscape, and the excellent traditional and ancient grape varieties.
The vineyards of the Vinhos Verde comprise about 10% of the total area of vines in cultivation on the Portuguese mainland. The biggest producing areas are Viana de Castelo, Porto, and Braga. The manner in which the vines are cultivated in the Vinhos Verdes is very striking for instead of pruning to keep them low, the vines are trained upwards to more than 6 feet high (2 metres). This is done to prevent the grape from rotting in the humid climate that rules in these parts.
The vines are trained along trellis, pergolas, or even cruciform concrete structures and they are usually harvest from below by standing on a trailer drawn behind a tractor.
The Vinhos Verdes (literally 'green wines') get their name from the attractive green countryside and not as some suggest because of the acidity of the wines. It is also quite wrong to believe that Vinhos Verdes are only white wines, since more red wine is actually produced but this is consumed locally by the inhabitants and many tourists. The relatively low alcoholic content of these wines (8.5% or more) makes them especially popular for it is possible to enjoy drinking them in greater volume. These Vinhos Verdes should ideally be consumed within one year and not more than two of their harvest. The only exception to this is wine from the subregion of Monc;ao, made entirely from Alvarinho grapes. These Vinhos Verdes Alvarinho are undoubtedly the best of their type and can also be kept longer.
The grape varieties used for the ordinary Vinhos Verde include Alvarinho, Avesso, Loureiro, Pedermi, and Trajadura for whites and Azal Tinto, Borrac;al, Brancelho, Padeiro de Basto, and Pedral for red wines.
The Vinhos Verdes Brancos are ideal aperitifs with their slight carbonic acid sparkle. The fine bubbles are formed naturally by quickly bottling the wine following a second fermentation (malolactic fermentation). Carbonic acid gas is given off during this second fermentation and by quick bottling at this stage the tiny bubbles are captured in the bottle.
The bubbles give the wine additional freshness in its taste. This wine is about 10% alcohol, making them tasty thirst-quenchers. Drinking temperature is 46.4- 50°F (8- 10°C).
|The Vinhos Verdes Alvarinho are better quality and are slightly more alcoholic. Drinking temperature is 50-53.6°F (1O- 12°C).Vinhos Verdes Tinto are just as light and refreshing as the white wines but have perhaps slightly more body. Drink this wine with lunch. Drinking temperature is 50- 53.6°F (10- 12°C).|