Casal Garcia Vinho Verde

Have I got some catching up to do!  Although the weather here in my area is turning frosty and gray, I drank this light white blend while it was still fairly warm.  Better late than never, I suppose.

Winemaker:  Aveleda Vinhos S.A.
Wine:  Casa Garcia Vinho Verde
Varietal:  White Blend
Vintage:  NV
Appellation:  Vinho Verde DOC, Portugal
Price:  $6.49 at Total Wine

Notes:  The color of this wine was a pale citron.  In the bouquet I detected gentle scents of tart peach.  It was light-bodied with the expected fizz (which settles quickly).  Alcohol was at 10%, and acidity was good.  On the tongue I caught flavors of peach, citrus and a light floral note.  Remembering the experience as I type this post makes me imagine myself sipping it once more … on a sweltering tropical beach.  Not to worry, though, it will be sweltering here again soon enough.

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An Effervescent White For A Summer’s Night

According to the Vinho Verde official website, the main consumers of wines from this region are women under 40.  Well, I am not a part of that demographic, but I went ahead and bought this inexpensive bottle of white anyway.

This Espiral was only my second Vinho Verde experience.  My first was with the Twin Vines iteration of a white blend from this region by Fonseca.  Both have been enjoyable.  And while there were definite similarities in the Espiral and Twin Vines offerings, there were also distinct differences.  No doubt those differences stem at least in part from the choices made regarding the specific grapes and relative proportions used in blending the wines.

Winemaker:  Espiral
Wine:  Vinho Verde
Varietal:  White Blend
Vintage:  NV
Appellation:  Vinho Verde, Portugal DOC
Price:  $4.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes:  The color of the Espiral was an extremely pale yellow.  On the nose I caught scents of grapefruit, copious grass, and a hint of almond.  As is the norm for these wines, it was frothy on the pour.  The wine was light-bodied, and the bubbles had surprising staying power.  (Those bubbles are evidently added carbonation which takes the place of effervescence that was historically present as a result of in-bottle malolactic fermentation.)  Acidity was bright and alcohol was at 9%.  You’d think with alcohol that low, the the wine would be distinctly sweet.  Not so.  On the palate it actually seemed fairly dry.  Perhaps the grape varietals used just don’t have that much sugar to begin with.  At any rate, this light Portuguese white had a pleasant flavor profile with a core of peach, citrus and grass accented by almond and floral notes.  I think it would make a nice aperitif for a summer dinner party – especially one on the patio or around the pool.

The Luck Of The Draw

Trying out a new grape varietal is always a draw for me when I’m perusing my local store shelves.  In this case, I saw that the majority of this white blend was made from the Italian grape Cortese.  Never having tasted a Cortese wine, I was willing to test my luck and gamble on a new wine experience.  After all, the stakes (ante up at $6.99) weren’t too bad.

Vineyard: Azienda Giribaldi
Wine:  Winemaker’s Selection White Blend
Varietal: White Blend
Vintage: NV
Appellation: Italy
Price: $6.99 at Whole Foods

Notes:   This blended white is made from 80% Cortese and 20% Chardonnay.  At 11.5% alcohol, it was moving toward sweet yet didn’t strike my palate as heavy or syrupy.  The color was a very pale lemon yellow, acidity was OK, and the body was quite light.  On the nose I found primarily citrus with hints of peach and floral notes.  Flavors consisted of citrus once again, some peach, and a fleeting hint of butter with a biting, grassy finish that also echoed the floral notes (think wild flowers or daisies).  Honestly, I can’t say that I enjoyed this selection.  It didn’t taste like gasoline or road tar, but the balance of flavors across the palate didn’t create an extremely pleasant experience for me, either.

Even so, I’m not giving up on Cortese.  I may have had an off day.  This may have been an off bottling for Azienda Giribaldi.  I certainly can’t say that I lost anything, because I did get what I was looking for – a new wine experience.  If I didn’t find a selection to fall in love with on the first draw, well what are the odds?  So I’m undeterred and will keep my eyes open for another opportunity with the Cortese grape.  Who knows?  I could get lucky next time.

This post is an entry into the 8th Monthly Wine Writing Challenge (#MWWC8).  Originated by The Drunken Cyclist, this month’s challenge – to write around the theme of “luck” – was issued by last month’s winner, The Sweet Sommelier.  Click on the MWWC logo at the top of this post to see details for this month’s challenge.

J.M Fonseca Twin Vines Vinho Verde

The Vinho Verde DOC is the largest wine producing region of Portugal and is located in the area known as Minho in the upper Northwest.  While this Twin Vines selection was a white wine (from green grapes, I thought?), the term Verde is meant to denote “young” rather than the color “green.”  As a result, it seems a Vinho Verde could be red, white or rosé.  And if I wasn’t confused enough by that …  According to the folks at Fonseca,  “Vinho Verde is made from one or a combination of twenty five different white grapes.  The best and most popular varieties are Alvarinho, Trajadura, Louriro and Pederña.”  The good people over at winesofportugal.com, on the other hand, indicate that the “Main white grapes (varying according to sub-region) [are] Alvarinho, Arinto Avesso, Azal, Loureiro and Trajadura.”  They go on to say the “Main red grapes (varying according to sub-region) [are] Alvarelhão, Amaral, Borraçal, Espadeiro, Padeiro, Pedral, Rabo de Anho and Vinhão.”  Unfortunately, neither the bottle nor the Fonseca website indicates which grapes were used in this Twin Vines Vinho Verde.

Winemaker:  J.M. Fonseca
Wine:  Twin Vines Vinho Verde
Varietal:  White Blend
Vintage:  NV
Appellation:  Vinho Verde, Portugal DOC
Price:  $7.99 at Whole Foods

Notes:  The color of this Portuguese offering was a light lemon yellow.  On the nose I caught a faint scent of green apple with floral notes.  The body of this Fonseca white blend was light, acidity was good – balancing the residual sweetness nicely – and alcohol was at 10%.  On first pour, this Vinho Verde was characteristically very frothy and bubbly, although the effervescence quickly subsided.  On the tongue I tasted gentle flavors of green apple and sweet grapefruit.  As the wine traversed the palate it also brought a slight chalkiness.  On the finish I found grass, lingering grapefruit and a hint of cucumber.  This selection was a nice surprise for me.  Not being well versed in Portuguese wines, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Especially since, unlike previous iterations of Twin Vines, this was a non-vintage bottling.  And given the lack of specifics, I’m still not certain exactly what I had.   But that’s OK.  I guess it’ll remain one of life’s little mysteries …  unless someone out there can enlighten me.