The Tasting Panel magazine

JULY 2012

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Page 109 of 132

Tasting Notes Here are my notes on three Aveleda- produced Vinho Verde wines, ideally suited to contemporary tastes. Casal Garcia NV Vinho Verde (SRP $8–$12) An extremely consistent and unbelievable value for a white wine of such lineage (the fi rst bottling of Casal Garcia dates back to Chef/co-owner Fatima Kavvadias (left) enjoys a glass of Vinho Verde with her husband, Chef Alexis Kavvadias, at Alexis Greek & Portuguese Restaurant in Northridge, CA. Azal and, increasingly, Alvarinho (more famously known as Albariño in Spain's nearby Rías Baixas). "The native grapes are perfectly adapted to the region's rich yet well-drained soils through centuries of use," says da Costa, "and throughout the last century, the Guedes family continued to make huge improve- ments." Innovations introduced by Aveleda included selection of lower- vigor rootstocks—allowing the vines to ripen grapes sooner, in perfect ripening conditions, which makes more ideally balanced, drier styles of Vinho Verde—and transitioning fermentation from old vats or concrete tanks to temperature-controlled stain- less steel tanks. Lighter, Purer, Easier-Drinking Today the Vinho Verde DOC is by no means a small-production region. Nearly 87,000 acres are planted to wine grapes (Napa Valley, by comparison, has about 43,000 acres), and Vinhos da Aveleda, managed by fourth- and fi fth-generation descendents of Manuel Pedro Guedes, accounts for about 20% of the production. Local consumption is strong, but consumers of Portuguese blood, transplanted in communities all around the world, have always formed the core of a healthy export business. According to da Costa, "Vinho Verde is starting to appeal even to non-Por- tuguese wine drinkers. We are clearly benefi tting from a global trend towards lighter, purer, easier-drinking wines." About 60% of Aveleda's yearly produc- tion (approximately 290,000 cases) is now exported. "Brazil has always been a big market," says da Costa, "but now our two biggest markets are the U.S. and Germany." Like Meis at Local Kitchen, Fatima Kavvadias, chef/co-owner of Alexis Greek & Portuguese Restaurant in Northridge (in L.A.'s San Fernando Valley), thinks that the reason for Vinho Verde's "over- night success" is quite obvious: "Vinho Verde is the perfect wine for today because people are so much more adventur- ous, and they appreciate so many different foods." Aveleda's fl oral Fonte Vinho Verde makes wonderful summer drinking with a variety of foods. Chef Fatima, who still returns home to her native Portugal for three months out of each year, tells us, "These light, refreshing low-alcohol wines are wonderful with shrimp cooked with a touch of piri piri (Portuguese chile peppers) or picante linguise, but they are also great with our Portuguese white cheeses, clams or scallops cooked any style." july 2012 / the tasting panel / 109 1939; vinifi ed from native Trajadura, Loureiro, Arinto and Azal grapes). Visible spritz leading to a lemony, green apple skin fragrance and taste; zesty, clean, light as a feather (offi cially 10% alcohol, but is probably lower), with a palate tingling, lemon/lime edge that becomes a revelation with raw bar shellfi sh (or for just plain drinking). Screwcap convenience. Aveleda 2010 Fonte Vinho Verde (SRP $8–$12) This familiar bottling is generally found at the same price points as Casal Garcia, but with slightly less spritz, a more fl oral fragrance (laced with citrus and green apple) and a less edgy, rounder, nonetheless zesty, feathery feel on the palate (10% alcohol), with apple and peach fuzz sensations fi nishing with a whisper of sweetness. Pure, promiscuous expression of the Trajadura, Loureiro, Arinto and Azal grapes. Quinta da Aveleda 2010 Vinho Verde (SRP $8-$12) While in the same price range as Aveleda's other Vinho Verdes, here the usage of Alvarinho (10%) with Loureiro (60%) and Trajadura (30%) makes this a slightly fuller, albeit light-medium-bodied, wine (11.5% alcohol), with even more vivid fruit expres- sions: lemon and lime notes mixed with intrigu- ing lavender and fl int sensations; the typical apple/ peach fl avors tasting both round and zesty with mild acidity, fi nishing cleanly dry. Very contemporary. PHOTO: MARIA SCHRIBER PHOTO: MARIA SCHRIBER

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