The wines of Vinho Verde, Portugal

These notes accompany our in-depth feature on Vinho Verde. For profiles of all of these estates please see Regional report: The new face of Vinho Verde.


AWARD WINNERS 2010

Estreia, Loureiro Lima Grande Escolha 2009
Leesy, waxy, skinny nose, touches of honey, leafiness, lime. The tiny spritz lifts the palate, adding salty notes to the slightly nutty, dry palate. Good. 87/100.

Portal do Fidalgo, Alvarinho 2009
Mealy, gently nutty, with some fleshy depth of fruit – pear and melon, classic Vinho Verde notes. The palate has lots of personality – really punchy, but dry, lemony and leafy and understated. 86/100.

Varanda do Conde, Vinho Verde 2009
Alvarinho and Trajadura. Fresh, breezy, a touch ozoney and salty, with pear skin fruitiness. The palate has lots of richness, and I like the richness and sweet pear fruit. A really nice example of a classic, understated style. 87/100.

Quinta de Simaens, Vinho Verde 2009
Interesting nose with some herbal notes, a touch of leafiness and some smoky quality behind the fruit. The palate has real intensity, quite a full texture, lots of phenolic grip. Grippy and needs food. 88/100.

Quinta da Aveleda, Vinho Verde 2009
Fragrant, pear droppy nose, some waxy lemon. Good fruit – fresh and enjoyably punchy, though not fantastically distinguished. 86/100.

Quinta da Aveleda, Casal Garcia White NV
Tangy, fresh and spritzy, but not distinguished. 85/100.

Casa de Vilacetinho, Vinho Verde 2009
Mealy, slightly custardy notes to this with apple and pear skins coming through. Delightful palate, the textural, mealy quality of the palate matching the nose, with really quite solid, powerful fruit. This has grip, but is not harsh, with pleasing weight despite very crisp, dry, mineral acidity. 88/100.

Casa de Vilacetinho, Colheita Seleccionada Arinto 2009
Sub-region Amarante, with lots of vivid aromatics, floral lift, a hint of spearmint and juicy, bold fruit. The palate has a touch of spritz, with that fresh, sherbetty bite. Very good, fairly simple. 87/100.

Monte Cascas, Minho Branco 2008
Not Vinho Verde. Very nice, fragrant French oak, lots of toast and subtle spice over quite fat, waxy fruit. The palate has a certain sweetness And ripeness, the purity of the fruit pushing through. One to watch. 89/100.

Monte Cascas, Colheita Vinho Verde Branco 2009
Fresh, sherbetty nose, with salty minerality and a certain sweetness on the finish. An interesting and potentially very good wine, but perhaps a little untogether – salty, sweet and phenolic notes. 87/100.

Sousa Lopes, Loureiro e Chardonnay Vinho Regional Minho 2009
Creamy, buttery oak nose, a touch of marzipan, but full, zesty lemon fruit beneath. The palate is fresh and vibrant, that zesty quality and a touch of fresh, punchy herbs coming though. Rounded out with a little vanilla into a long, dazzlingly fresh finish. 89/100.

Quinta da Levada, Vinho Verde Azal 2009
Nicely ripe, elderflower and passionfruit ripeness, Minho meet Marlborough style, with a certain flinty quality and delightfully full, fresh fruit. 89/100.

Mosteiro de Santa Maria de Landim, Camélia Loureiro 2009
Named after the monastery’s Camellia gardens. Quiet a lot of that slightly sweaty, passionfruity character, with bright apple fruit. Does that passionfruity quality mask the varietal. Pithy and lemony on the palate with a tight structure, but I like the way the fruit is wrapped around it, with lots of waxy substance. 88/100.

Quinta da Lixa, Colheita Vinho Verde 2009
Very pleasant, lemony fresh. Has a pear drop freshness and some herbal nuances. Slight spritz on palate with lovely tang and punch: lots of ripe nectarine juiciness. 88/100.

Quinta da Lixa, Alvarinho Trajadura White 2009
Slightly more leesy, pear fruited nose with some creaminess and pear skins. On the palate quite grippy, with a big core of minerality, grapefruity flavours and punchy acidity. Long and tangy. 89/100.

Quinta das Arcas, Arca Nova Alvarinho/Trajadura 2009
Nutty, dry, little fragrant notes. Lots of fresh, herby grip and good depth of fruit. Orange and some nutty aromatics, lots of character. Grippy and very delicious. 87/100.

Quinta de Gomariz, Grande Escolha White 2009
Nice nose here with lots of pear fruit that also shows lovely ripeness, a hint of passionfruit and elderflower, almost Sauvignon-like. Very nice palate too, lots of fleshy, sweet, juicy fruit. 89/100.

Quinta de Gomariz, Vinho Verde Loureiro 2009
Quite bright, fresh, pear fruit even hinting at lychee. Some of that talcum powder perfume too. The palate has the spritz to lift and lighten quite punchy, quite Sauvignon-like elderflower fruit. Tangy, with a grapefruity zest. 88/100.

Quinta de Carapeços, Alvarinho/Trajadura 2009
Regional Minho wine. Very fragrant, vibrant, punchy nose, with leafy geranium and green herbs, very ripe pear fruit. Leesy, rich character to the palate too, with a lean, lemon pith and mineral streak, with lovely balance and length. 88/100.

Quinta de Linhares, Colheita Seleccionada 2009
Quite pungent, but not in the full-on Sauvignon style, just a bit of punch and depth to the classic, floral and cucumber-fresh aromas. Nicely, Riesling-like character here, with all the softening, talcum edges but searing, limey freshness too. 90/100.

Quinta de Linhares, Avesso White 2009
Avesso is not the most common grape, but was a favourite at the late, lamented Quinta Covella. Quite mealy and rich, little honeyed nuances, good fruit. The palate is big and bonny, with a fair dollop of residual sugar, but the acidity is lovely. Might be better with a little less sugar, but have it with some scallops or lobster in a buttery sauce… 88/100.

Quinta de Azevedo, Vinho Verde 2009
Tight, citrusy, very fresh with a little minerality. Palate is fresh as a daisy with searing lemon fruit and the spritz just lifting and softening the finish. Really lemony tang. 87/100.

Quinta de Azevedo, Morgadio da Torre Alvarinho 2009
Ripe, rich nose, focused on the fruit, with quite bold, crunchy and leafy fruit. The palate has a big, pithy core of grapefruit and lemon dryness, but hold on to the fleshy richness. 88/100.

Casa do Valle, Vinho Verde 2009
Fairly flat nose, the flavours crisp enough but slightly phenolic. Has a certain tight, mineral appeal, but needs a nudge more fruit. 86/100.

Casa do Valle, Grande Escolha White 2009
Careful selection the best grapes. Talcum and sherbet aromas, with some piercing pear fruit coming through, nicely lifted and herby. The palate has nice presence, a bit of phenolic grip, but maybe peters out slightly in the finish. 87/100,

Miogo, Espumante Bruto Reserva 2007
Green tomato notes, with a subdued, lemony character. Nice enough, but not distinguished. 85/100.

Tapada dos Monges, Alvarinho 2009
Nice lift and orange blossom fragrance, some ozoney freshness. The palate too has a fresh appeal, with decisive minerality and real structure, weighty mid palate and lovely acidity. 89/100.

Quinta De Santa Maria, Alvarinho 2009
Waxy, but a little simple, one-dimensional, some salty bite with freshness to relieve a slightly oily character. 85/100.

Quinta Edmun Do Val, Alvarinho 2008
Orangy spice, some bready notes too, lemon confit lift and lots going on. The palate has a leesy richness, the texture is full and the dry Cox’s Pippin fruit is offset by touches of honey and very ripe fruit, the acidity never wavering. 90/100.

Corga da Chã, Vinho Verde Arinto 2009
Quite succulent, orangey fruit notes. A little of that tropical character coming through. The palate has a touch of sweet, ripe, almost tropical fruit and a nice finish. 87/100.

Casa de Paços, Loureiro/Arinto 2009
Partial oak ferment for the Arinto, partial skin contact. Rich nose, quite leesy and full, with vegetal notes and a touch of smokiness. Interesting fruit on the palate, the fleshy, melon and the oak adding a little tannin structure and creaminess. Very delicious, with lots of orangy acidity bright in the finish. 89/100.

Casa de Paços, Fernão Pires 2009
Fairly subdued nose on this very unusual Fernão Pires from the Minho, with a touch of creaminess and pear fruit. The palate has a rich texture but it is dry, with underripe pear, fresh and leesy flavours and good acidity. Long and distinguished. 88/100.

Enoport, Moura Basto Vinho Verde 2009
Only 10% alcohol, quite fragrant but very simple, nice fruit but undistinguished. 83/100.

Casa do Arrabalde, Espinhosos 2009
Avesso/Alvarinho/chardonnay. A touch of buttery character and a Chardonnay dominated nose, with apple fruit and some ripe melon character. Long, quite decisive acidity, with tang and that minerality at the core. 88/100.

Casa do Arrabalde, Vinho Branco 2009
Avesso/Alvarinho/Arinto. Punchy, grippy, fresh fruit, with lots of sweet fruit on the palate. 87/100.

Quinta da Raza, Dom Diogo Alvarinho 2009
VRM. Salty, briny, very attractive and intellectual nose with a solid base of dry pear fruit. On the palate lots of richness and leesy weight, fills the mouth with texture and ripeness, Lovely punch here. 88/100.

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THE ALVARINHO ROUTE

Quinta do Feital, Dorado Superior 2008
An unusual Vinho Verde that spends one year in tank with the lees, and almost two years in total before bottling. It is made by Spanish winemaker Marcial Dorado from Galicia, home of Albariño, who crossed the border to make this wine from a 70-year-old vineyard. It is organically farmed, with very low levels of sulphur and only natural yeasts employed in fermentation. Quite deep yellow colour, with powerful, leesy, oxidative nose with lots of stony minerality. This is a Gravner-like, skinny and grippy style, with intense, concentrated apple fruit, lots of structure, bruised apple fruit and a dry, timeless, style with high acidity gripping the finish. Singular and rather marvellous stuff. 93/100. Imported by Indigo Wines.

Quinta do Reguengo de Melgaço, Alvarinho 2009
Nutty, oatmeally, with dry pear and apple skin notes. Very nice fruit – clean and crisp, with lots of mineral and sour apple grip, though not hugely complex. 88/100. Imported by Hallgarten.

Quinta do Louridal, Poema 2008
Aged on lees for one year with battonage, two years in total before release. “We use neutral yeasts to achieve primary fruit aromas – not ferment aromas.” Complex, creamy nose with lime and green fruit, gently figgy notes. Palate is rich and complex, with lots of grip and grapefruity punch. Tangy, layered, with lots of flavour and textural complexity. 91/100. Imported by Castas.

Quinta do Regueiro, Alvarinho Reserva 2009
Clean, very fresh aromas with ripe, crisp melon, little glimpses of juicy peach or nectarine, but pretty and focused. The palate has delightfully crisp character, the fruit very clean: concentration without too much extraction, and though there’s a phenolic grip, it is refined and subtle and the fruit focus never blurs. 89/100.

Quinta da Pigarra, Alvarinho 2009
Produced from vineyards near the River Minho, with bold, apple and orange zest fruit, with a very dry palate, the minerality and lean, lemony acidity scything through the quite tropical fruit character. Delicious and well balanced. 88/00.

Portal do Fidalgo, Alvarinho de Monção, Lda 2009
Crisp, ripe, bright apple notes with a little pithy lemon and lime fruit. Very sharp and crisp on the palate but has fine weight too with waxiness and a Riesling-like intensity. 88/100.

Vinha Antiga, Alvarinho de Monção Escolha 2008
Six months in French oak, new and one year old, fruit selected from nine of their producers with old vineyards (25-50 years old). Only 6000 bottles. Gently oatmeally and nutty on the nose, with Cox’s pippin and a certain creaminess. Rich, deep, textural palate, the bite of the grippy, pear-skin fruit and a the ripe melony fruit set against a really strong core of minerality with good length. 90/100.

Quinta de Serrade, Alvarinho 2009
After planting in 1981 and selling to a cooperative for many years, has been bottled on the estate since 1997. Fresh, appealing, quite tropical melon and melon skin nose with a touch of apple and bruised apple fruit too and tiny floral hints. The palate has some straw and some nuttiness, with a tang of orange. Lovely, concentrated yet commercial stuff. 88/100.

Fontainha de Melgaço, VV 2009
Subtle, salty, quite sulphury, with a pleasant but unexceptional palate. 86/00.

Quinta de Soalheiro, Alvarinho 2009
Lovely nose, with lots of richness and bold pear and ripe, iced melon fruit – the palate has lots of fresh, bold fruit too – model stuff with clarity and precision and a real tang of concentration in the finish. 89/100.

Quinta de Soalheiro, Alvarinho Primeiras Vinhas 2009
30-year-old vines. Leafy, complex, very attractive nose with complex leafy green herb and wax aromas. The palate has glorious clarity, with very good intensity of fruit, staying pin-sharp and focused, with pear and apple skin grip and that acidity and refined fruit pushing through to a long finish. 92/100.

Castaboa Alvarinho, VV 2009
Leesy, grippy pear fruit, with lots of leesy, yeasty character and boldness. A big, powerful wine with lots of ripeness and fruit sweetness. Powerful and fruity stuff. 88/100.

Quinta de Melgaço, Castrus 2009
A small proportion of this sees barrel fermentation. Very rich, ripe, slightly more buttery quality, notes of buttered cabbage and quite exotic fruit, but all with a fine, nervy twist of dill-like herbs and minerals. The palate has a slightly oxidised, bruised fruit quality, very Chenin-like with lots of layered personality and a big, dry, phenolic but balanced finish. Only 500 cases. 92/100. Imported by Ince wines.

Adega de Monção, Deu-La-Deu Estagiado 2009
Alvarinho, at 13% alcohol fermented in steel, then into barrels for three or four months with battonage. Released after two years in full. 5000 bottles from a Coop with 800 hectares of vines. Very creamy, orange and vanilla nose, with complex fig and quince notes and butter. The palate has a very sweet, rich texture with a lot of oak showing through, perhaps just too much although the fruit is intense and the acidity is good. Tangy and rich. 89/00. Imported by Clarke Foyster.

Quinta de Melgaço, Vinho Verde Alvarinho Q.M. 2009
Two months battonage in stainless steel. Tight, apple and yellow plum nose with some refined green notes. Big sour apple and pear palate, with lots of leesy, waxy texture and a decisive mineral acidity and a certain spiciness too. Impressive. 89/100. Imported by Ince wines.

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ANSELMO MENDES

Muros Antigos, Alvarinho 2009
70% Alvarinho with Loureiro. Very fine talcum notes, with good, concentrated pear and melon skin fruit. Really punchy palate, with lots of juicy lemon and lime fruit and pithy acidity. Lovely stuff – grippy but fresh. 89/100.

Muros Antigos, Loureiro 2009
Pear and melon fruit, with waxy lemon notes. Nice underlying mealiness, bursting with fruit onto the palate with lovely acidity focused on juicy lemons and no phenolics, just that sense of rich texture. Simpler than the Alvarinho perhaps, but more exuberant in style. 89/100.

Muros Antigos, Alvarinho 2005
Absolutely fabulous stuff with lime and toast, all the phenolics have dissipated, the palate has exquisite minerality, with such refinement and harmony. Delicious, natural stuff that shows how this grape is capable of ageing. 92/100.

Anselmo Mendes, Alvarinho Contacto 2009
Long pre-ferment cold soak then whole bunches go in to the ferment. Melon skins, grapefruit skins, lots of fruit here. The fruit has a waxy edge on the palate, with a searing core of lime and intense, textural weight, juicy acidity, a lick of saltiness and delicious fruit. A beautiful wine with elegance and huge intensity. 92/100.

Muros de Melgaço, Alvarinho 2009
Fermented and aged in French oak, 10% new, but no toast – barrels scraped to remove any hint of toast. Creamy, buttery notes, but very lightly so. The palate has a huge core of fruit: oranges and grapefruit, with terrific fruit and great persistence in the mouth. Ripe, grippy, structured. 91/100

Anselmo Mendes, Curtimenta 2009
This is “Made like red wine,” according to Anselmo with two days fermenting with skins then nine months in older 400 litre barrels. Big wine, with masses of ripe fruit, that leesy, skinny, ripe fruit buttressed by softening oak notes, but a very vital core of fruit. The palate full of grippy, structural fruit. Mid palate density and lovely point in the finish. 93/100.

Anselmo Mendes, Curtimenta 2005
“Higher tannins that most Pinot Noir,” according to Anselmo. Ripe, buttery, but remarkably fresh with a minerality that makes it almost Graves-like, with Sémillon notes of lemon and a certain nuttiness. 90/100.

Anselmo Mendes, Anselmo 2009
First year project, from a small parcel that every year for 10 years has been the best Alvarinho. Skin contact at 12 degrees and ageing six months in large oak barrels. Delightfully refined, supple, very refined with delicious fruit: lots of vivid citrus, yellow plum and big, grippy finish with a bit of tannin and lovely fresh acids. 93/100.

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AFROS

Afros, Vinho Verde Espumante Loureiro Reserva 2007
A traditional method sparkling wine, part of the base wine aged in older oak barrels. 100% Loureiro. Pale golden colour and very nice small bubbles. Quite a nettle and herbal nose, a touch of vanilla and lots of citrus. Beautiful palate, the Loureiro flavours coming through powerfully, a touch of the waxiness and the bold apple fruit. The bold, fresh mousse ripples across the tongue and lots of structural acidity and just a broadening base of toast and that waxy, ripe pear fruit. 90/100.

Afros, Vinho Verde Branco Loureiro 2009
Beautifully smoky, slightly mineral quality, with that ripe, pure lemon zest and bold pear-skin fruit. There’s a hint of leafy green herbs, but really focused on the bold lemon fruit and that mineral edge. The palate has a delightful, very natural and unforced concentration. Delightful wine, with a little talcum edge but beautiful fruit, just a touch of residual sugar but that beautifully delineated finish. 92/100.

Afros, Vinho Verde Tinto Vinhão 2009
Fermented in the lagar with foot-treading. Then to tanks with lees ageing, no malolactic, and allowed to ferment out very slowly, perhaps through into the new year. Served cold, this deep crimson/black wine has beautiful aromatics with black cherries, red liquorice and a certain caraway seed spice. Lovely, tight, beautifully focused flavours. The tight black fruit has beautiful gloss and refinement on the palate too, with fantastic, savoury depth, a little meatiness and that firm, granite-like backbone of structure, but the finish very soft, a certain creaminess through the lees ageing and that beautiful kirsch-like freshness. 93/100.

Afros, Vinho Verde Espumante Vinhão Reserva 2006
Lovely nose on this traditional method, sparkling red wine. Berry fruit is deep and rich with a more bloody, meaty, gamy depth than the still Vinhão. Quite a complex nose, little floral rose-hip nuances and lovely more of that bright cherry fruit and a touch of chocolate. On the palate the tannins are big, deep and meaty making this delightfully chewy, with the depth of cherry and chocolate, hinting at deep raisin flavours, is delicious. The acidity is perfect, but the support of those tannins and the creamy mousse adds lots of depth, breadth and substance. 91/100.

Secret Spot Moscatel do Douro
Secret Spot are all single vineyard wines, but will come from different vineyards each year “depending on where I source interesting things,” according to winemaker Rui Cunha. 1 This was assembled by Rui from old parcels of wine he found around the Douro, between 20-year-old wines in concrete and 100-year-old casks, that small growers were selling at the farm door. Dark, treacly brown colour riven with walnut husks and raisins, lovely leaf tea notes. The palate has a glycerine richness and delightful depth of flavour. Cherry flavours and real fruit sweetness. Fabulous, toffeed richness. 93/100.

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QUINTA DO AMEAL

Quinta do Ameal, Loureiro 2009
Beautifully fresh with mealiness and pear fruit, touches of lemon rind and pear skin those talcum touches. There’s a saline tang of minerality on the palate and lots of pure, long, limey fruit. Pedro thinks the vines are now in perfect balance. 89/100.

Quinta do Ameal, Escolha 2008
Again, 100% Loureiro, for this wine fermented in used oak barriques. Has a little more openness and richness, more herbal notes too and has a richer, much oilier texture, with lots of grapefruit skin richness and tang, and plenty of lime and grapefruit brilliance to the flavour, the lovely acidity pushing through giving this real bite and length in the finish. 91/100.

Quinta do Ameal, Escolha 2003
Deep colour but still green. Beautifully fruity nose, with lots of limes and wax, very Riesling-like. Little herby notes, but the fruit is ripe and orangy, with lots of flesh and a sweetness, the clarity and precision of the acidity and fruit still perfectly pitched. 91/100.

Quinta do Ameal, Espumante 2002
Made from the Arinto grape, this has three years in vat then three more in bottle for second fermentation, which for this vintage finished at end of 2008. Toasty, buttery with lots of brioche and nettle notes. On the palate a big, powerful wine with bruised apple fruit and lots of leesy richness. Outstanding stuff that will split the jury into lovers and haters. 90/100.

Quinta do Ameal, Special Late Harvest 2007
A passito method (dried grape) Loureiro with 12% alcohol and five months of drying. Fabulous nose, with cream and vanilla and lots of barley sugar creaminess, crème brûlée touches. The palate has absolutely delicious balance – the sweet, full fruit has a real sense of dryness with creamy texture and glycerine richness, but fantastic acidity balances the 180 grams of sugar. Toasty, orangy, delightful. 92/100.

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CASA DE CELLO

Quinta de SanJoanne, Escolha 2004
A blend of Alvarinho, Avesso and Chardonnay, this is the current vintage on the market as João cellars the wine for six years before releasing. A real waxiness, and some oxidation, with big, dry, parcel-string character, like a maturing Hunter Valley Semillon. There is a lovely acidity in the finish of this, playing against that waxy texture. Unusual, complex, with a slightly phenolic finish. 88/100.

Quinta de SanJoanne Passi 2008
Avesso and Loureiro, with 10% alcohol and 90g/l of sugar. Very floral and leafy, almost a geranium leaf quality. Lots of lifted, bright raspberry fruit. Very attractive and real sweetness on the palate but not at all cloying or dense – delightful acidity. Great freshness and an apple juice acidity that leaves it tangy and delicious. 90/100. And two from the Dão estate:

Quinta da Vegia, Vegia 2008
This is the entry level wine. Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and Alfrocheiro. Loads of spice – cinnamon and clove – and lots of floral lift, geranium and roses and lifted black fruits. The palate has soft, earthy fruit with quite creamy texture, the palate quite crisp and racy, with a touch of liquorice raciness and plenty of edgy freshness. High acidity and lots of grippy tannin giving a gravelly, grippy note to the finish. 89/100.

Quinta da Vegia, Vegia Reserva 2007
Bottled only five weeks ago. Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz, five months in oak, none of it new. Retains all that fragrance and freshness, with those floral notes, the lifted aromatic spices and fine, glossy, liquorice fruit. The palate adds an element of smoothness over the entry level wine, giving more creaminess to the texture on the mid-palate, those dry, spicy fruit tannins and the fine acidity giving it a savoury, edgy, a little leathery and chewy, but nice spicy length. 90/100.

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