Exploring the grapes of this refreshing region.
A few weeks ago we introduced you to the wines of Vinho Verde in our Get To Know Vinho Verde post. In this post we're going to learn about the grapes that make up this region with a special emphasis on Alvarinho and Loureiro.
Vinho Verde is home to an astounding 45 indigenous varieties of grapes. Of those there are 9 recommended red and white varieties for winemakers. The red grapes are: Espadeiro, Padeiro and Vinhao. The white grapes are: Alvarinho, Arinto, Avesso, Azal, Loureiro and Trajadura. (You may recognize several of those from last week's review.) Today we're going to focus in on two of the whites - Alvarinho and Loureiro.
Alvarinho (al-vah-REE-nyo; hear it pronounced here) is generally thought to be the finest white grape in Vinho Verde. You might know this grape best from Riax Baixas in Spain where it is called Albarino. With similarities to Viognier (floral qualities and sweet citrus notes) and Riesling (acidity and minerality) it's easy to see why this variety is so well admired.
While many of the white wine blends in Vinho Verde are semi-sparkling and made to consume young, the single varietal Alvarinho bottlings are almost exclusively still and have very good aging potential. Most plantings of Alvarinho are in the Monção e Melgaço region, located right over the border from Rias Baixas and just like the wines from that region, the examples from Portugal are a slam dunk with seafood.
The second grape we are featuring today is Loureiro (loh-REH-row; hear it pronounced here), which is the most widely planted grape variety in Vinho Verde. It is cultivated all over the region and in particular is quite adaptable to the cooler coastal climates. It is indigenous to the Lima Valley in Portugal, but can also be found in the Rias Baixas region in Spain where it is called Loureira.
A light-skinned grape, the name means "laurel" which refers to Laurel flower scent often found in these very aromatic wines. Naturally high in acidity and low in alcohol, it is most commonly used in blends but there are single varietal offerings as well which like Alvarinho tend to be still (and more structured).
For much more info on Vinho Verde Wines check out their website here and stay tuned over the next few weeks as we highlight some of our favorite selections! (Can't wait? Check out all our recommended buys from this region here.)
This post was sponsored by Vinho Verde Wines.