Visiting Quinta de Curvos, Portugal’s Vinho Verde region

Sep 27, 14 Visiting Quinta de Curvos, Portugal’s Vinho Verde region

Posted by in All, Portugal

I recently visited the Vinho Verde region of northern Portugal and got to know the wines and some of the producers of the region. One of the most interesting quintas (or estates) we visited was Quinta de Curvos. This quinta is located in Minho which is not far from Barcelos, one of the main cities on the pilgrimage to Campostelo de Santiago. The quinta has been around since the 1500’s but was bought by the Fonseca family in 1974. Since then, they have been producing the indigenous grapes alvarinho, loureiro and trajadura. What I enjoyed most about these wines is how well made they are and yet they are relatively inexpensive. They have plenty of depth of flavour and are perfect with seafood, which is plentiful in Portugal. Over lunch, Miguel Fonseca, one of the sons of the owner of the estate, told us a bit of the history of the estates. He is involved in the running of the estate and spent his childhood running around the forested grounds. I have to say I was even more envious then usual when I visit wine estates because the grounds of the estate had the most remarkable buildings and follies set in a forested parkland. My favourite was the cave set underneath a folly sitting by the pond. It was like having your own private batcave. It must have so much fun to grow up there and Miguel did indeed agree with us! There are also pergolas of vines and vineyards as well that cover one side of the estate.   The Quinta itself was founded in the 1500’s and passed through different owners before being bought by Miguel’s family in the 1970’s. Since then the family have maintained the grounds and built up the wine producing aspect of the estate. Over lunch we tried a few of the estate whites and the rose. We had a loureiro, an avesso and a blended white wine as well as a bright cherry red coloured rose. All...

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Discovering Portugal’s Vinho Verde, visiting Soalheiro vineyards

Sep 10, 14 Discovering Portugal’s Vinho Verde, visiting Soalheiro vineyards

Posted by in All, Portugal, Sparkling Wine

The last days of summer are upon us but that doesn’t mean you have to automatically switch to red wine. As they say, it’s ok to drink white after Labor Day (well, that’s what they say in the States).  Earlier this summer I visited the Vinho Verde region in the north east of Portugal where they make great wines, and not just for summer. Vinho Verde can be a bit confusing because it is not only the name of the grape and  one of the styles made, but is also the region. Most consumers think of Vinho Verde as a light easy drinking wine that is meant to be drunk young. As an added bonus, it’s also low alcohol, averaging between (9% – 11% alc).While that is all true, there is a lot more to it then just that. For example, Vinho Verde not only pertains to young white wine but also to rose and red wine. Vinho Verde can also be sparkling or distilled. Our trip focused on the whites of the region. The main grapes used for the white wines are alvarinho, arinto, loureiro, trajadura, azal and avesso. All of these are indigenous varieties of Portugal and produce light wines with acidity but also with body. A very nice combination on the palate. Throughout the trip, we tasted not only the still white wines but also the sparkling wines of the region, which are less well known but equally as good. One of the sparkling wine producers we met was Luiz Cerdeira, son of the founder of Soalheiro. They are located in the northern most part of Portugal, in Melgaço and specialize in alvarinho. They produce both still and sparkling wines. Sitting on the balcony of the winery overlooking the vines with the border with Spain just at the bottom of the hill was a delightful experience. We sipped their Brut Rose as well as the sparkling alvarinho. I think those sparklers could easily compete on an international scale. They had great acidity,...

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More Guerilla wine (Portuguese) and supper clubs!

Apr 23, 10 More Guerilla wine (Portuguese) and supper clubs!

Posted by in All

One of the conversations I vaguely remember having at the Fernandez&Leluu dinner was with one of their helpers, Claire, co-founder and cook of another secret supper club, the Green Onion Supper Club situated in a Hackney council flat. What was even more appealing about Claire’s club was that she referred to herself as a guerilla cook! Love it! Just like my Guerilla winetasting adventure with Eatlikeagirl. A few emails later and we had arranged to do a quick guerilla wine tasting during the supper. We’d swoop in and swoop out having distributed some quick tastings of the wine we had to hand. I had a few bottles from the Portuguese Big Tasting with Oz Clarke at Waitrose which I thought would go well with Claire’s menu of venison terrine, mutton pie and chocolate mousse. And so, Niamh and I were off to do our tasting. Unfortunately, I’ve just moved to the Dalston/Hackney area so we quickly got lost. After traipsing around the council flats of Hackney for at least an hour, we finally gave in and sent out an SOS to please come and find us! Turns out we were just around the corner from the flat/supper club venue but these things are very well hidden. Judging on this and my last foray into finding secret supper clubs, you shouldn’t attempt to play hide and seek with these people, you’ll never find them! We got there just in time to eat. I quickly gave a brief run down of the first wine, a vinho verde. Vinho Verde is so called not because it’s green but because it’s young. The Quinta de Azevedo 2008 (£6.16) was a very tasty, light and fruity example of what vinho verde is all about.  A slight tickle of bubbles on my tongue followed by lemonadey-citrus flavours but tempered by a crisp acidity that made this just the ticket to start the evening. Even though people were talking all over each other, most agreed it was fresh and easy drinking....

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“Vinho Verde. Like no other wine in the world” Well, that’s their tagline and they’re sticking to it. But is is like no other? Castas, in conjunction with the Comissao de Viticultura de Regiao dos Vinhos Verdes, put on an intimate tasting of the regions wines at the Royal Exchange in the City to show us. I always, always, always forget that vinho verde is not only a wine, it’s also a wine region of Portugal. More specifically, it’s a “specified region” or an appellation, as the French call them. The Vinho Verde region is situated in the northwest of Portugal and was demarcated in 1908. It’s located between the mountain ranges of Freita, Montemuro, Peneda, Gerês, Cabreira and Marão and seperated from Spain by the River Minho, all of which overlook the Atlantic Ocean. That’s a lot of mountain ranges! The area is a lush, green stretch of slopes and plateaus as you would imagine from a place that makes “green wine”.  There are 9 sub-regions all of which have their own microclimates, types of wine, varietals and cultivation. They are, in no particular order, Monção, Lima, Cávado, Ave, Sousa, Paiva, Basto, Amarante and Balão. Vinho Verde is known for producing light, refreshing wines which are meant to be drunk young. Vinho Verde means “green wine” but it’s name comes from the fact that it can be drunk young and is very fresh. It has nothing to do with the colour or the lack of maturity of the grapes when they are picked. I always thought that vinho verde was a white wine only but it actually encompasses all the colours of the wine world. From white to red to rose. The most famous vinho verdes are white but I had a fabulous rosè from the Quintas das Arcas, Arca Nova Rose 2008 that was a spectacular match for piripiri chicken which was being passed around during the tasting, crisp and dry with hints of strawberry, it tamed the spiciness of the chicken. The whites are generally...

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Independent Winegrowers Assoc. – Portuguese whites

When I think of Portuguese wines, other then Vinho verde, white wine is not what springs to mind. I’m thinking big, robust, tannic, or sweet, thick and vintage. The Portuguese however are really working hard to change our perceptions and expectations of what kind of wine comes out of their vineyards. I attended a tasting at the Portuguese Embassy not long ago highlighting the top whites of Portugal. The wines were selected by Charles Metcalfe, Sarah Jane Evans MW and David Lopes Ramos, all authorities on Portuguese wine, sponsored by the Independent Winegrowers’ Association. There were 61 wines from 51 producers. It’s exciting to learn that there are so many new (to me) white wines coming from Portugal. The lions share of whites came from the Douro but there were also representatives from most of the other wine producing regions of Portugal, even one from the Azores. What I find most interesting is the sheer exoticness of varietals that are used. Grapes like Antao Vaz,Arinto, Terrantez, Roupeiro, Encruzado, Bical, Cercial, Gouveio, Viosinho, Rabigato, Malvasia fina, and my favourite, if only because of it’s name, Maria Gomes. All so alluring and romantic, even more so when said in Portuguese, to these ears that are more accustomed to French or even Italian varietal names. And overall, the quality was excellent. The wines ran the gamut from light and fruity to full bodied and elegant, with plenty of fruit character but still able to go harmoniously with a meal. Of course, there were wines I didn’t particularly care for, but in general all were well made and only the samples at the very low end of the price spectrum were disappointing but then again what can you expect for 2 euros? For some new and exciting white wines, Portugal is definitely worth seeking out. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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