Chances are that you’ve heard of Vinho Verde. This unique style of white wine native to its eponymous region is the best known Portuguese wine aside from Port. When made well, it is one of the most joyous warm-weather apéritifs out there. That said, there surely are many mass produced, artificially carbonated versions as well. Our selection this month, the Old Vine Alvarinho from Foral de Melgaço, comes from the Vinho Verde region and is made with one of the most important Vinho Verde varieties (Alvarinho), but it is decidedly not your typical Vinho Verde. This is Vinho Verde Alvarinho from very old vines made into a serious, still white. It’s a tremendous value in endlessly intriguing white.
In the glass, this white grabs you on the nose with its suggestions of salty seawater, licorice, and honeydew melon. True to its character, this Alvainho is fresh and saline while also being rather full in body and concentrated. Traditionally best enjoyed with seafood and shellfish in particular, don’t hesitate to branch out and pair it up with dishes like our recipe for Shrimp and Scallop Cakes with Pineapple relish.
Alvarinho (simply the Portuguese analog to the better-known Spanish Albariño) is one of the most important varieties used for blending into traditional Vinho Verde. This grape thrives close to the sea, and it is no surprise that it goes beautifully with seafood of all kinds. Not unlike Chardonnay, it has the potential to be both fresh and light with high acidity in certain climates, but also full, ripe, and concentrated in others. Some have even experimented with extended oak aging. This one straddles the line. It never sees any wood and is unquestionably fresh and mineral-driven, but it surely does have a degree of concentration and complexity rarely found in simpler Albariños.