Because of the large Portuguese community here in Newark, and up in places like Providence R.I., and Fall River, MA., Portuguese wines have more currency in the northeastern U.S. than any other place in the world with the exception of Portugal itself. But like Italy, in the market, the Portuguese shelves are red-wine-heavy – perhaps even more so than Italy’s…The one big white wine exception in Portugal is Vinho Verde.
Now just to nip any misunderstandings in the bud, the Vinho Verde appellation, located in the northernmost Portuguese region of Minho, produces both white AND red wines. Vinho Verde, which clearly translates as “green wine” uses the word “verde” to denote youth and freshness rather than as a semi-figurative description of the color of the wine produced there…That said, the Lambrusco-like red Vinho Verde is pretty hard to find in any but the most hardcore Portuguese community wine shops, and the long, slim “Mosel” bottles of the white kind are cheap and ubiquitous. The few biggest names in white Vinho Verde turn out tart and prickly, but ultimately dull wines that do little more than slake a summer thirst.
But then there are wines like Adega de Moncao “Fuzelo” or the ultimate object here, the Quinta do Ameal Loureiro Vinho Verde, that proudly advance Vinho Verde’s reputation. The Fuzelo is a zesty, chuggable blend of Alvarinho (a.k.a. Albarino as it’s called over the border in Galicia, Spain) and Trajadura, while the Quinta do Ameal is more ambitious bottling made solely from the Loureiro (low-RAY-roo) variety. The big give away regarding the quality of this wine is how well it drank for an 11.5% alcohol white from the 2007 vintage! Typically, Vinho Verde should be drunk well-chilled, and as young as possible, but this Loureiro from Quinta do Ameal is testament to how complex and ageworthy good Vinho Verde can be (especially from the Ponte de Lima sub-zone). What’s more is the wine reviewed here isn’t even the winery’s top Loureiro bottling!
Quinta do Ameal Loureiro Vinho Verde sub-regiao Ponte de Lima 2007
Very pale greenish-golden color. Continuously evolving nose of white flowers, green melon, subtle pineapple, fresh cream , and vanilla bean. The wine is a balanaced mouthful of fresh, clean, and crunchy pear, passionfruit, and lemon/lime flavors of surprising weight and pulpy intensity that nicely echo on the finish.