The Tasting Panel magazine

JULY 2012

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PORTUGAL tasting wine. There's nary a green or herbal note in these low-key wines. Rather, the name refers to the fact that these are wines best consumed young, rather than aged in a barrel or the bottle. Vinho Verde can be a red, white or rosé wine. Vinhos da Aveleda, like other companies in this demarcated DOC (Denominacão de Origem Controlada), produces all three styles, but in the U.S. the brand is best known for variations of 100% stainless steel–fermented, lemony dry whites, typically finished with a little less than one bar of CO2 pressure. Manuel Pedro Guedes began producing Aveleda's first commercial Vinho Verde in the 1870s. Local Kitchen's top selling Vinho Verde happens to be the Aveleda Fonte, grown and produced by the Guedes family, who trace their involvement in the agriculture of Portugal's Minho region, at the northern tip of the coun- try along the Atlantic, back to 1671. Vinho Verde isn't actually a green- A History of Innovation In the 1870s, Manuel Pedro Guedes (1837–1899) began producing the family's first commercial Vinho Verde. According to Pedro Martins da Costa— an enologist by training and Aveleda's official wine educator—Manuel was considered something of an "eccentric" person because of the profound changes that he introduced to the region, by managing the vineyard with the sole purpose of making wine. Although viticulture in Vinho Verde DOC dates back to the Roman Empire, in the 19th century grape growing was just one part of a typical farm in Minho: Vines were usually trained on telephone pole–like pergolas, going 15 to 20 feet above the ground, so that other crops (mainly corn and garden vegetables) could be cultivated below and on the sides. Grapes, naturally, were harvested from tall ladders. Guedes did away with the traditional poles that required massive amounts of manure composting (not necessarily ideal for wine grapes) just to sustain all the crops, and implemented Bordeaux- inspired Guyot and cordon de Royat trellising. Today, Aveleda's vineyards are grown on contemporary-style The Loureiro grape is Vinho Verde's workhorse variety. vertical shoot positions, but the grape varieties planted remain exactly the same: for white wines, indigenous vinifera such as Loureiro (Vinho Verde's workhorse variety), Trajadura, Arinto, Born a Fan of Vinho Verde: Chef Manuel Azevedo at LaSalette Chef Manuel Azevedo thinks the wines of Vinho Verde are perfect paired with most food—but especially with the kind of big-flavored dishes found in Mediterranean-style cuisines. He should know. Born in Portugal's Azores Islands, Azevedo has owned the acclaimed Portuguese restaurant LaSalette in Sonoma, California, since 1998. "Vinho Verde wines tend to be high in acidity and low in alcohol," he says. "They stand up well to oily fish like salmon or sardines, but they're subtle enough to work with a salad of wilted lettuce." Chef Azevedo believes that the low retail price point of Aveleda's Vinho Verdes make them a good entry point for budget-conscious American wine drinkers who want to try something new. But that low price point also means that he doesn't carry the wines at Chef Manuel Azevedo at LaSalette. 108 / the tasting panel / july 2012 LaSalette. "To make a profit I must charge a certain amount per glass," he said. "And if someone can go to a wine store and buy a whole bottle for the price of that glass, there is no point in having it on the menu." He does carry Aveleda's higher-end Alvarinho. "It's a very good wine," he said. "A wonderful food wine." Azevedo's first collection of recipes, The LaSalette Cookbook: New Portuguese Cuisine, will be available in August. —Suzie Rodriguez PHOTO: RANDY CAPAROSO IMAGE: COUTESTY OF VINHOS DE AVELEDA

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