We've written about Vinho Verde here before so this time we'll try to focus on this one particular example. Vidigal was one of several Portuguese labels that were introduced here several years ago by a small upstart distributor that knew good wine but over-estimated the size and sophistication of this market. Ironically Vidigal now resides with a large ongoing Atlanta liquor distributor which unfortunately never developed the internal corporate wine culture to exploit the quality of this fine niche item. Vidigal just can't seem to catch a break here.
When we tasted Vidigal many years ago we were impressed by its breadth and flavor profile. Let's make no mistake - we're talking Vinho Verde here, the Gatorade of wines. Bad Vinho Verde features fizziness as its flavor profile. When I asked the vendor last week how this vintage is showing, he said it's sort of like Pinot Grigio and I can live with that.
"Petillance", "frizzante", "spritzig", and "effervescence" all mean fizziness in one language or another and all describe that dominant Vinho Verde characteristic. Technically, Vinho Verde does not exceed one bar CO2 so it isn't sparkling. Vinho Verde means "green wine" which translates as "young wine" in Vinho Verde parlance since it comes in versions as disparate as red and rose, along with late harvest and sparkling versions, and even brandy. While the fizziness used to be the natural emanation of its youth, it is now carbonated for the worldwide market.
So why is Vinho Verde relevant today and, actually, why was it ever? That answer is obvious when looking at a map. The Vinho Verde DOC lies right in the northwest corner of Portugal on the Atlantic Ocean and bordering its counterpart, Rias Baixas of Spain. In short, these are seafood wine production regions. Portugal actually has the highest seafood consumption of all of Europe and the fourth highest in the world. Moreover, this western part of Portugal features a Mediterranean-style olive oil and vinegar over fresh seafood cuisine along with its version of the seafood stews of Spain across the border. Vinho Verde, it turns out, works just fine for the local dining purposes!
So why is it relevant here? Because of the season! This is the perfect outdoor summer quaff! Vidigal has the high acidity of its youth along with the benefits of three important Portuguese grape types: the floral aromatics of Loureiro (50%), the light crisp steeliness of the Trajeduro grape (40%), and the minerality of Arinto (10%). It's also relevant because no less of a resource than the New York Times has said that Vidigal was the best Vinho Verde tasted out of a field of twenty.