Last weekend I had the fortune of visiting my good friend Sam who is now living in Lisbon. The trip from Porto to Lisbon is very easy (3 1/2 hours by bus) and affordable too (15 euros one way!) I am happy to know that I have a friend there and glad to have had the opportunity to finally visit a city that's been on my mind for quite some time now.
In my bag I brought, one change of clothes, my laptop, my notebook, the lonely planet's guide to Portugal, and 3 bottles of vinho verde that I wanted to try with Sam. One thing I left behind was my tasting glass, although I did consider bringing it, I figured I could probably find something decent in Lisbon. Boy was I wrong. Feel free to laugh at the size of the glasses we ended up using for our tasting. Sure you can drink wine out of anything, but you can't properly taste wine out of just anything and certainly the bigger the glass, the better. Anyhow, we did our best with the tasting and once that was done, did a number on the bottles despite the small glasses.
Vinho verde number 1:
The fun part about doing wine tastings with friends is that you get to conceal what you know about the wine (i.e. how much it costs) and hear a totally unbiased opinion about each one. This is especially nice when comparing less expensive wines to more expensive wines.
Tamacana is your typical vinho verde. Light, spritzy, metalic, acidic, it is very easy to drink and according to Sam, was the best of the three... he ended up finishing the bottle that night.
Vinho verde number 2:
O tal vinho da Lixa
Both Sam and I agreed that though this one carried the spritz that we like in a vinho verde, it was quite metallic and didn't have the balance of citrus that would have made it more palatable. Certainly not our favorite; the bottle went back in the fridge.
Vinho verde number 3:
Quinta de Gomariz
I bought this one at the recommendation of the wine shop owner when I asked for a high quality vinho verde. My idea was to have something to compare my 1.75 euro bottle to (the Tamacana); sometimes it's hard to tell how good or bad something is without a reference.
This wine has won several awards which are proudly displayed on the bottle. I also give it a gold. (Though the Tamacana still comes in at a close second place.)
The aroma is flowery and fruity. I smell distinct notes of melon.
For a vinho verde it seems full to me, but still light and smooth compared to any other white. And, as I hoped, it's got the spritz!
For Sam, the Quinta de Gomariz was too fruity and he preferred to stick with vinho verde number 1. For me, it was perfect... and bottle for bottle we went.
On Tuesday night I enjoyed a dinner at O Caçula, a restaurant that had caught my eye a few days back. To go with my heaping plate of ratatouille and polenta a la parmesana, I orded a... vinho verde. Duh. Thank goodness it was a new one!
Campo da Vinha certainly met all my expectations of a good vinho verde. Effervescent, acidic, fresh, light - look at those bubbles go! A vinho verde like this is not to be confused with a champagne-style sparkling wine. Just a little fizzy - a nice spritz.
I was under the impression that this fizz was an important characteristic of vinho verdes. Turns out more and more producers are making vinho verdes that have no fizz at all! I have to admit, that's kind of a disappointment to me, but I've made it my goal to dive right in and try the gamut.
Today in the wine shop I discovered that this might be more interesting and varied than I thought. I had seen rosé vinho verdes but today I discovered that a few producers make a tinto (red) variety of vinho verde! I'll put that on the to-do list, try to find a good one and maybe include it in my next tasting.
The "verde" (green) in vinho verde therefore, probably does not refer to the light green tinge in the white varieties of the wine, as I've heard discussed, but rather to the age of the wine - always bottled young... or "green" and usually consumed within the year.
Today I slipped into this swanky (and empty) dinner place to get out of the rain and do some work - while I'm here I might as well have a glass of vinho verde.
In these situations I can't be too choosy and I expected to drink whatever they wanted to give me and not have much to write about. I was thrilled to see that I recognized the bottle from the wine shops back home but had not yet tried it. So here we go!
Vihno verde (pronounced veenyoo verde... rhymes with haired) is usually inexpensive, even in the states, and is easy to drink on its own or enjoyed with a meal. It's been a favorite of mine since my time frequenting A Casa Portuguesa in Barcelona and I always love trying a new vinho verde.
Tonight I'm drinking Quinta da Aveleda, a wine you can probably find in any wine shop anywhere in the world but one that's new to me. It's not letting me down. The color is so light it could be mistaken for water. But don't worry, it's not. The aroma is so fresh and so clean... overwhelmingly lemon and jasmine! In the mouth it is light but quite acidic (I've always been a fan of lemons) and has a persistent finish. Like many vinho verdes it has metallic notes, is young, and crisp. Great for a summer day... or a rainy St. Valentine's in Porto :)
HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!!!
ps. Porto is crazy. Every place I've been for wine tasting in the past three days has given me at least one free glass of something to try. These people are lovely and quickly raising my expectations.
Tonight I am in Porto. (Yes, this quote is in Spanish because I just got here and don't know any catchy Portuguese sayings yet.) I'll be here for another 4 months and while I'm here I plan on taking advantage of the incredible access to wine - tonight's choice: vinho verde for 1 euro a glass. Granted it was on tap at the bar (this I have never seen), but it was good.
The idea here - in this blog - is that anything goes.
Leave notes on a new discovery, could be the cheapest, or the cloudiest, the most surprising, or the best value; it's all opinion and this is a place for those of us who like to obsess over these things to do so.