In honor of the new release of our first wine from Portugal, Lot 205 Vinho Verde, we turned to Wine Educator, Lexi Stephens (aka @lexiswinelist) to help us explore where this wine comes from and what makes it the perfect summer sipper. Pour yourself a glass and join us, and Lexi, in raising a toast to our new favorite wine for summertime!
With a name that translates to “green wine”, Portugal’s Vinho Verde is a light and refreshing sipper that’s perfect for summer. While this northwestern region also produces rosé and red wines, its white blends of indigenous grape varieties are Vinho Verde’s most iconic.
Portuguese winemaking dates back to the 10th century BC, when the Phoenicians arrived and began to cultivate grapes, sharing winemaking techniques and changing the region forever. Two Romans documented the inaugural mention of wines from Vinho Verde in the first century, and the official region was established as Portugal’s largest demarcated wine region in 1908, defining its subregions, permitted grape varieties, and types of wines produced.
Today, the Vinho Verde DOC is split into nine subregions, each with their own microclimates, ranging altitudes, and soil types. Overall, the high acidity content of the granitic soils, proximity to the ocean, and plenty of rainfall throughout the region are the perfect conditions for crisp, refreshing white and sparkling wines.
Stretching from the Spanish border to the Atlantic Ocean and home to two rivers, the Vinho Verde region is rainy and damp, causing winegrowers to think outside of the box in defending their grapes from mold. When you walk through the vineyards, you’ll notice the iconic Pergola trellis systems, allowing the grapes to hang high above the ground with enough breeze to protect them from the wet weather threats.
Unlike its moniker suggests, Vinho Verde wine is not green at all. While varietal expressions are also produced, its white wine is often made from a blend of local grapes - Alvarinho (aka Albariño), Arinto, Loureiro, Azal, Avesso, and Trajadura. Note: Vinho Verde is not a grape variety, rather the wine is labeled for its origin.
It’s theorized that the name, Vinho Verde, comes from this region’s lush greenness due to the amount of rain and coastal proximity. Another thought is the wine was named for its early harvest and purpose of being enjoyed young and fresh.
Either way, white wine from Vinho Verde is quintessential for the transition from spring to summer. This light-bodied wine is often lower in alcohol, with a slight effervescence and refreshing notes of citrus, green melon, pear, and white flowers. The light bubbles are a result of a carbon dioxide addition just before the bottle is sealed, creating a thirst-quenching wine that keeps you coming back for more.
White wines from Vinho Verde often punch above their price point - the perfect excuse to stock up on some bottles for summertime soirées, park picnics, and outdoor happy hours with friends.
Vinho Verde can be enjoyed chilled on its own, but its crisp acidity and tart, fresh flavors make it perfect for pairing with light summer fare like salads, sushi, and fish tacos. You might also enjoy a glass as a palate cleanser between bites of crispy calamari or french fries.
Grab a bottle (or twelve) of the new 90+ Cellars Vinho Verde for your next pool day and transport yourself to the stunning green coast of Portugal. You won’t be disappointed!