Tag Archives: Vinho Verde

Four Vinho Verdes Not To Miss!

7 Dec

I love Vinho Verde, so I jumped at a recent chance to taste four wines that were new to me.

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If you aren’t already a fan of this northwestern Portuguese wine, you should be. Vinho Verde is light & refreshing with citrus and nice acidity, sometimes with a hint of fizziness due to malolactic fermentation. Like Riesling, you can drink it as an aperitif, with just one course or through an entire meal. It leaves the palate refreshed and usually does so with a lower alcohol content.  It’s no big bold red wine, but it’s never meant to be. Vinho Verde stands firmly on its own, a coastal wine for coastal food, and my friends and neighbors have become accustomed to seeing it served at every wine gathering I host, alongside other wines that may change from season to season or moment to moment. Here are my tasting notes:

Tapada do Marquês 2013;  10% ABV, List $13. A blend of Loureiro, Alharinho and Trajadura grapes, a floral and fruity nose is matched on the palate with lime, passion fruit, and apricot with tart acidity.  A dry, lemony finish makes this wine ideal for pairing with seafood; I’d love to try it with my favorite grilled flounder recipe.

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Quinto de Curvos Avesso 2013, 13% ABV, List $13/bottle. Delicate floral notes expand across the palate and evolve into a creamy, warming mixture of tropical fruit with hints from apple, pear, & white peach stone fruit. A hint of residual sugar, a note of granite and a funky back palate will allow this vinho verde a plethora of food pairing options.

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Quinta de Santa Maria Arinto 2013. 12.5% ABV, List $15/bottle. 100% Arinto grapes make this delicate and crisp wine a joy to drink with a blossom and citrus nose, powerful lemon-lime initial palate, nice minerality, with a long finish. Leaving  a tart, crisp aftertaste on the tongue, this wine had me asking for more. A delightful single varietal, I’d love to serve this with a sunny brunch outdoors.

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Quinta do Tamariz Loureiro Escolhua 2013. %11ABV, List $15/bottle. Fruit forward with lots of pineapple and white peach, moves from refreshing to mature to majestic in the mouth with a crisp finish. Made from 100% loureiro grapes by winemaker Mara Francisca. This wine could pair beautifully with  fish or chicken recipe made with herbs, cream, or vegetables.

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Each of these four showed different nuances and strengths and could easily be a part of your wine repertoire. With low street prices they offer a lot of bang for the proverbial buck, so please advise if you find a great bargain on these in your neighborhood!

à votre santé!

 

In Vino Veritas 2014. Vinho Verde!

28 May

I attended another “In Vino Veritas” group in NYC in which everyone brings a bottle (not the same one, hopefully) of a grape varietal or style of wine. I suggested several possibilities for summer wine options to group’s host,  Jimmy. A few days later I got an invitation via email, and the wine of choice was Portugal’s Vinho Verde.

I’ve been to Portuguese wine tastings before. One at a high-end wine store in Manhattan where I had found the vinho verde choices just not quite to my personal liking at that moment. I hoped to fare better at this one, and knew at least I’d bring one that I enjoyed.

The day of the tasting came and we found ourselves around a table with five bottles of vinho verde, from five different manufacturers, several of which cost under $10. They were quite different in style: some were lighter in color, body, and depth while others had some savory notes and a more yellow hue instead of the pale green I’ve come to associate with them. Not all the wines were sparkling/carbonated, and interestingly enough as a group we all seemed to choose different bottles as our favorite of the set. The tasting process became a great overview of a variance of style and flavors.

My apologies for the lack of specific individual reviews, as I was determined to actually enjoy this tasting and not make it “work”, so I left my notes for the next tasting, and am sharing only the overview today.

Casal Garcia

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Quinta de Azevedo

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Gazela Branco

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Muralhas de Mancao

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Most importantly at this tasting, everyone found a wine (or three) they enjoyed. For most of the group, it was their first time tasting this delicious and refreshing treat just in time for summer. For all of us, it was a great time with friends, trying something new and exciting, learning and enjoying, and having a wonderful summer evening.

vinho-verde-portugalHave a favorite Vinho Verde or a great story to share? Tell us about it!

à votre santé!

The Red Wine Party Challenge: Part 2/Conclusion

12 May

In Part 1 of The Red Wine Party Challenge, I provided mini-reviews of eight possible wines under consideration for a catered meal where I needed to choose one red wine for a very large group of people. The criteria included: 

1) Ideally a French wine

2) Must pair with: pasta with a variety of sauce options, poached salmon, roasted vegetables, & sushi.

3) To speed bar service, require alternative enclosure, or to be available in 1.5L bottle.

4) Lower price range ($7-$15/bottle) to stay in the party budget. 

As a refresher, at a local wine store I found these eight wines as possibilities:

La Vielle Ferme (Rhone, France) $7

Rosemont Estate Cab/Merlot Blend “Soft & Smooth” (Australia) $7

Rothschild Mouton Cadet 2012 Bordeaux Blend (Gironde, France) $9

Duboef Beaujolais-Villages Gamay  (Romaneche-Thorins, France) $9

PepperwoodGrove Pinot Noir (Valle Central, Chile) $9

Famille Perrin Cotes du Rhone Reserve, (Rhone, France) $10

Chateau La Freynelle 2010, Merlot/Cab Blend (Bordeaux, France) $12 

Drouhin LaForet Pinot Noir (Beaune, France) $15 

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Round One: I started by removing the wines I thought had limited pairing ability- even though they might have paired wonderfully with one specific dish from the meal, after tasting them I had to find that one wine that will stand out on its own AND pair well with all the foods being served- salad, poached salmon, pasta (tomato sauce, pesto, garlic & oil, primavera) as well as a sushi station. Well, it’s called a challenge for a reason, right?  I took three out of consideration after my initial tasting:

-The Rosemont Estate felt smooth and a tiny bit sweet- not right for this pairing.

-While La Vielle Ferme is often a wine I enjoy, this year’s selection was only OK.

-I thought a gamay selection offered good potential, but this bottle of DuBoef felt too astringent.

Round One left me with five remaining wines: two Bordeaux blends, one Rhone, two Pinot Noirs to decide among. 

Round Two is going to be difficult! These wines all drink very well and are delicious, great bargains with no obvious faults.

Time to compare the two pinots and the two Bordeaux. This is not going to be easy, but I’m determined to make it fun!

For the pinot noirs and this meal, the Pepperwood offers more pairing options and is easier to drink by itself. Reluctantly, I had to put the Drouhin to the side. While it is a lovely complement for the salmon and sushi, it did not offer enough body to pair well with the spicier pasta sauces.

-The Mouton Cadet is an easy vin du table that is so incredibly consistent but I preferred the Chateay La Freynelle when considering the entrees being served. I put the Mouton Cadet to the side.

-I compared the Freynelle and the Perron Rhone. I tasted, spat and tasted, and then tried each with a medium cheese. The Famille Perron Rhone has a darker palate yet was more harmonious to the dairy, while the Bordeaux blend was crying out for meat. I’m not serving meat. I put the Freynelle to the side.

 

Round Three! I’m down to Perrin Red Rhone Blend and Pepperwood Pinot Noir.

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Either of these wines would be a wonderful complement. The Pepperwood Grove Pinot Noir, a Chilean wine that drinks like entry-leve Burgundy from a top producer (at a fraction of the cost) would also be a great example of options to my guests who EXPECT French wines from me. It’s super easy to drink by itself or almost any food. Add the Zork enclosure, and this wine is a killer bargain at $9. Any nay-sayers would be stopped by the list of accolades on the label.

Yet the  Côtes du Rhône is a beautifully-made red that is the epitome of great, inexpensive French red wine, with more body and a longer finish.

I debated and debated. I sipped and spat, swirled, sipped, and swallowed. I had to choose one.

 

Decision time:

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In the end, I went with the Perrin Family Côtes du Rhône. The beefier body, the long finish, and the multiple specific notes from the wine make this the ideal red to serve. It will satisfy those who don’t know anything about wine (who will simply enjoy it with whatever they choose to eat) and equally well it will satisfy the oenophiles who will break down the elements, discuss the fruit, acid and tannins that I do so often in this very space.

So: decision made. For those who wonder what white wines were served, I will make good on that promise!

I started everyone off with the Gazela Vino Verde 2012 $6/bottle from Portugal, whose touch of fizziness reminds the drinker of sparkling wine while being lower in alcohol, light and delicious, making it really fun to drink.

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For a full-bodied white, I chose the Yalumba Unwooded Chardonnay 2013 at $11/bottle from Southern Australia. The Yalumba is a vegan and vegetarian-friendly wine that uses no animal-based fining agents as well a being a predominant winemaker who uses both organic, biodynamic and sustainable winemaking practices in their work. Beyond that, it simply tastes delicious (green apple & white peaches) with notes of stone and spice on the crisp, clean finish. Very satisfying.

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Please share with me YOUR experiences and trials in trying to find the “right” wine. I look forward to hearing from you!

à votre santé!

 

Wines for Indian Summer

14 Oct

Hirsch Grüner Veltliner ’09, Austria. From Garnet Wines & Liquors, $14. 11.5% ABV.

The bottle is comical: green screwcap with red and white top, a childlike, handmade drawing of an inverted moose wearing an 1920’s bathing suit, holding a winged wineglass right side up.

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While it is a funny label, I admit that had I seen this in the store, I would probably have ignored it based on my tendency to write off silly labels. So be glad I didn’t, instead I ordered this directly from the store as part of a mixed case for my personal tasting. The bottle enhances the green color, but in the glass the wine is a yellow straw with a gentle green tint. The delicate nose is mostly grapefruit and lemon peel with a note of sunflower, the mouthfeel is citrus with green pepper, sweetness hiding underneath the acidity and a long mineral finish. This is the alps’s answer to sauvignon blanc, done beautifully. I plan to find more good value grüners like this one and work on pairing notes! 

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Gazela Vino Verde 2012, Portugal. From Mayfair Wine, $6/bottle. 9% ABV

Greenish yellow tint, with lime and daffodil on the nose. Tart lime, granny smith apple peel, and soft, white peach undertones round out the palate with tiny bubbles. Tasty. At these prices, why aren’t we all drinking Vino Verde with a first course at dinner? Another great value that is worth trying.

Gazela Vinho Verde review photo

Saumon, King Ferry Winery, 2012.  King Ferry, NY.  $18/bottle at Local Farmer’s Market, as low as $10/bottle online.

Color: bright pink with orange accents. The nose has wildflowers and pink cotton candy showing the sweet side of this blend. In the mouth I experienced strawberry, watermelon, hints of halite, stone, and granite. A medium-to-short finish ends tart, with the mouth enjoying the blend and ready for another sip.  Other than being price-gouged at the local farmer’s market (I paid double the winery price! Boy did I feel foolish when I found the MSRP price online) I enjoyed this rosé. If I had purchased it at the winery price, it would be a good value. I’m still happy to support local wines and the local market, and this is the first New York wine I’ve shown on UnCorked!

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à votre santé!

Refreshing Wines for Hot Summer Nights

16 Jun

Ah, summer. The mere word brings joy to our minds. Recall the childhood years when you couldn’t wait until you could escape school. These days, you might relive those moments over again for (or with) your children. And we can’t forget the activities of summer, such as beachgoing, ballgames, hiking and camping, the list goes on and on.

What about the wines of summer?  Some people try to drink the same wines they enjoyed the rest of the year. I suggest you broaden your horizons and try some of the refreshing wines that can open your eyes and palate all summer long.

While pinot grigio, chenin blanc and chardonnay are popular and easy to find, I can’t begin to tell you the joy  you’ll have in finding something delicious and new to add to your repetoire! These are especially ideal for late afternoons and those early evenings on long, sultry, summer nights.  While the pictures may be of specific brands and I have blogged about many of these, today I’ll simply suggest the grape and wine type you look for in your local wine store, and see what you can find! When I’m shopping locally, I like to pick up a bottle (or three) of something new to try at a neighborhood store to drink in the next few days, and order by the case the wines I want to cellar for the future.

 

Albariño– fruity aromas, pear, apple and passion fruit with bright acidity

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Moscato– honeysuckle and orange blossom help make this gently sweet wine a delicious aperitif.

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Riesling– a year-round staple in my home. Simple two to three note wines with gentle fruit, excellent minerality and crisp acidity.

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Rosé– this pink wine made from the red grapes (but without the skins, this can be an incredible ‘bridge’ wine that will work with salads, seafood, soup and steaks.

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Vino Verde– a touch of fizz with citrus, green apple, and pear.

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Viognier– peach, apricot, honeysuckle, and nectarine flavors are common in this grape.

viognier-lineup

Please let me know what you try this summer, and how you liked it!

à votre santé!

The Summer Breeze in Wine: Vinho Verde!

15 Jun

One of my favorite wines that is still WAY under the radar is Vinho Verde. One of Portugal’s lesser-known exports, this is a fresh, crisp wine (often with a little carbonation) that is delicious, perfect to cleanse the palate or enjoy at a cocktail party, and is super inexpensive. Best yet, unlike my other under-the-radar favorites, this one is easy to find in most stores.

Today’s vinho verde is Alianca , a delicate ‘vinho branco’ (or white wine) blend from Northeastern Portugal that is 10% alcohol by volume. With a classic greenish-yellow tinge in color, the citrus nose sits between lime and grapefruit. This one is gently fizzy, with good, crisp acidity on the mouth and a dry, balanced palate of lemongrass, citrus, granny smith apple and young anjou pear.

 

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I pulled this out of my fridge at the last minute for a neighbor’s backyard get-together. My hope of using this to introduce several friends to vinho verde went over well, and it was quite popular, and perfect like a summer breeze.

Here’s the real kicker- I found it locally (Mayfair Wines & Liquor for those in my area of NYC) and it was $7/bottle. Seven bucks. Against my favorite $30+ Sauvignon Blanc, this is the one that everyone wanted more of at the cocktail party.

I suggest you find a local wine store, ask for a vinho verde, and try it with unsuspecting friends! See what they think- you might surprise them, with something new they’ll thank you for!

à votre santé!

 

 

 

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