VINHO VERDE

vinho verde

Sec. I A.C.  The earliest known historical references to the existence of wine in what is now the “Vinho Verde” Demarcated Region are those of the Romans Séneca, philosopher, and Pliny, a naturalist and Dominiciano’s legislation, in the years 96-51.

1172- Afonso I’s Office to the men of Bouças: “the monarch intended that he should plant vineyards, exempting them from any jurisdiction in the first five years after planting, and sixth part of the wine harvested “(in Coelho da Rocha, Essay on Portuguese Legislation, 1843).

1606    At least this year the City Hall of Oporto fixed the prices for the sale of wines – mature and Greens – so each Quarter will 4 Reis for White Wine and 3 Reis for Reis.

1784    In Viana do Castelo, a The Agriculture and Commerce Public Association for the Provínce of Minho is started together with D. Maria I, started a revolution against the «Real Companhia das Vinhas do Alto Douro», and tried to intervene and regulate the market of the wines for this Region

1788    John Croft in «A treatise on the wines of Portugal», York, Second edition, writes about the first export for Portuguese Wines to England, wines probably coming from the area of Moncao and shipped out of the Port of Viana do Castelo.

2008    Centennial Celebration for the Demarcation of the area for Vinhos Verdes

VINHO VERDE

 Vinho Verde is the biggest DOC of Portugal, up in the cool, rainy, verdant north west. The vines grow in fertile, granite soils along rivers that flow from the mountains of the east to burst out into the ocean between golden surfing beaches.

The outer boundaries of both the “Vinho Regional” Minho and DOC Vinho Verde are the same, stretching from the River Minho in the north, which forms Portugal’s border with Spain, as far down the coast as the city of Porto (Oporto), but inland extending a further 30km south of the river Douro.

Cool, wet weather always makes ripening more difficult, but the climatic problems were long compounded in the region by the tradition of training vines along pergolas on the edges of fields, and sometimes up trees, in order to gain space and free up the center of fields for other crops.

 

There are many smallholdings (many are really small), and grapes are still often trained in this way, but modern vineyards, and certainly the vineyards of major estates, are now low-trained on wires, giving better exposure to the limited sun, and better ripening.

Vinho Verde is still distinguished by its high acidity. Flavour depends on the grape varieties used – floral Loureiro, steely Trajadura, mineral Arinto (known here as Pedernã), creamy and mineral Avesso, and the fine, mineral, subtly fragrant Alvarinho. Azal Branco is hard to ripen and declining in popularity, and in any case tends to get blended with more aromatic grapes. Most white Vinho Verde can be relied upon to be light, crisp and aromatic, often with a light prickle of fizz, sometimes with a touch of sweetness.

The fine Alvarinho grape rules around the towns of Melgaço and Monção in the north, along the Minho river. The climate here is warmer and drier, the maritime influence partially blocked by hills, and the combination of grape and climate makes for richer, fuller, subtly complex wines, made dry and totally still.

The DOC Vinho Verde has also permitted fully sparkling wines since 1999 – a growing and promising venture. And there is a lot of red Vinho Verde, too – dark, high in acidity, low in alcohol, made principally from the late-ripening, red-fleshed Vinhão grape.

There are nine sub-regions to the DOC, named after rivers or towns: Monção, Melgaço, Lima, Basto, Cávado, Ave, Amarante, Baião, Sousa and Paiva.

reference: Wines of Portugal website

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