Portuguese Wines are Great for the Summer -- and Port, Anytime

One of my favorite summer wines are Vinho Verde wines from Portugal.  This wine comes to mind when you say “Wines of Portugal” to most winelovers… well, that and Port of course.

The recent San Francisco tasting of Wines of Portugal showcased many wonderful wines.  They are all fresh, drinkable and for the most part well-priced.  The Vinho Verde region includes the coastal area on the Northwest corner of Portugal, between the Minho and the Douro rivers, and features many indigenous grape varieties.  There are red Vinho Verde and white Vinho Verde wines.  For summer, try the whites.

The Aveleda Vinho Verde is a blend of 4 white grapes, and is citrus colored and flavored,  young and well-balanced with  a smooth and delicate bouquet, and the taste reveals hints of fresh fruit.  When you taste Vinho Verde, no matter the producer, you’ll find it fresh and vibrant.  The Aveleda Vinho Verde is distributed in 46 states.   10 per cent alcohol!  Retail price is 8 or 9 dollars/ bottle.

Ela Vinho Verde 2012 is a medium dry blend of predominantly Loureiro, with Trajadur and Arinto too.  it is a light, floral and fruity wine with lemony flavors and is slightly sparkling.  There’s the taste of citrus, not too sweet, and an aroma of fruit when you open the bottle. 10 per cent alcohol.  $10/bottle.  Look on www.touchstone-wines.com to find nearby sellers.

Alianca Vinho Verde 2012 is light bodied and light colored. It has a nice crisp taste, cirtusy and a bit tart.  10 percent alcohol.  $8.99/bottle.

 In the Port category, the Late Bottled Vintage 2007 from Sogrape is a blend of ports from the last ten years.  It is lighter tasting than many ports, more approachable at an early date, less oxidative in taste, and less nutty.  In many ways, this is opposite of a tawny port.  20.5 percent alcohol.  $24.99/ bottle.

Stefano Marello pours Kopke
The Kopke Colheita 1996 Single Harvest Tawny Port has that lovely caramel and dried-fruits and nuts flavor we like from a tawny port.  Average price on the internet is $36/bottle. 

My own house port is the Six Grapes Reserve Port from Graham’s.  It is fruity and robust.  Bottled young (after 3 to 4 years), it has characteristics similar to a young Vintage Port.  Because of its price point  ($20-22/bottle) and because I am not a wine snob, I’ve never found it necessary to decant this port.  20 per cent alcohol.

This information first appeared in The Tahoe Weekly newspaper, where I write the Wine Time column, in July 2013   

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