Before start writing about Vinho Verde I want to give a massive THANK YOU to Caterina Lousan to select me and invite me to this amazing trip and an even special thank you to Barbara Roseira and Daria Tchubukova Ferreira of the Comissão de Viticultura da Região dos Vinhos Verdes (CVRVV) to let me taste more than 60 wines of various producers and drive me to 6 wineries in different sub-regions letting me understand the variety and the potential of this wine region answering me to the hundreds questions I have personally asked. Thank you again!!!
So, let's start to say that Vinho Verde is a vast area of production in the region of Minho in north west of Portugal and has 21000 ha of vineyards. Yes, 21k ha, almost the 10% of the total Portuguese planting (224k ha) splits between 18000 grape growers of which 2000 Quintas (wineries) producing 86% of the total white wine, 8% rosé and only 6% of red Vinho Verde.
Being so vast the climate also differentiate, and it having 1200 mm of rainfall (very wet) on the top north to the 400mm (slightly too dry) of annual rainfall in the south of the appellation having both a moderate maritime climate influenced by the Atlantic ocean with an annual average temperature of 14.8 degrees Celsius. Slightly lower on north and slightly higher in south of the region.
Regarding the soil generally speaking is more granitic in north next to the Spanish border and more shist (also called slate) in south adjacent to Douro valley, mixed with sand and clay.
The white grape variety allowed are 6 and in order of importance we have Alvarinho, Arinto, Avesso, Azal, Loureiro and Trajadura which are all found in Galicia in Spain except Arinto (also called Pederná) which is a proper Portuguese varietal with a nice and refreshing acidic backbone. For red and rosé, the most common is the Vinhao, called also Suosao in Douro valley, that lack of a fruity profile but has a spicy herbal meaty character with a distinctive super deep dark ruby colour due its red flash. Vinhao is also commonly blended with Borracal and along Alvarelhao and Amaral are the 4 red grape variety allowed in the region while for the rosé the 2 most common are Espadeiro and Pedeiro as they have both paler colour, lighter body and more fuity carachter than the other for red varietals.
However, the focus is the white wine and due the different terroir also the various grapes adapt better with a specific terroir as the Alvarinho seems to fit better on wet and granitic soils while the Avesso shows better structure and fruitiness in drier shisty soils.
For this reason the CVRVV has delimited 9 sub-region as shown in the map attached and in this way the style of the wine may be better recognised as in the top north, next to the national border adjacent to Contado de Tea subregion of Rias Baixas in Galicia, Spain, where the Albarino is widely planted, in the sibling Cru village Malcao and Melgaco guess what? Alvarinho is the most widely planted as fits greatly with this kind of terroir. The wines here have beautiful acidity and in best examples along the fresh apple also show tropical fruits as pineapple and fresh mango beside a subtle flinty character.
The Loureiro dominate the planting in the central part of the Vinho Verde area but amongst the most distinctive wines come from the Baiao subregion where the Avesso fits better in the Douro-like terroir.
Avesso here show more structure and personality able to produce a great level of acidity, distinctive for any Vinho Verde, but with intense granny smith and golden apple, ripe lemon floral and with more viscosity and body on the palate.
To make the consumer even more confuse Vinho