D’Amato & Szabo: Wine Thieves – Episode 35: Vinho Verde

The Wine Thieves are back in Europe this spring, the ideal time of year to rediscover Portugal’s Vinho Verde. Crisp, delicately perfumed, dry to off-dry, low in alcohol and sometimes with the merest prickle of effervescence, these are classic descriptors of this northern Portuguese specialty (and mostly white, but there are rosé and red versions, too).

But as we’ll discover, there is a great deal more to Vinho Verde than just refreshing spring sips. The Minho region, where Vinho Verde is made, is divided into 9 diverse sub-regions, some heavily Atlantic-influenced, others further inland and sheltered. From Monção and Melgaço to Paiva, as these sub-appellations become more frequent on the label, John and Sara take a deep dive into their distinctive features including the rivers they flank, the grapes in which they specialize, and the changes we can expect on the labels this very vintage.

And from modern, varietally-specific labelling to traditional field blends, the Thieves investigate the range of styles within Vinho Verde. Alvarinho may be unrivalled in its fame but local varieties such as Avesso, and Loureiro (Sara’s favourite to pronounce) are worthy bearers of the Vinho Verde flag. Let’s not forget the red wines of Vinho Verde based on Vinhão, along with rosés and sparkling wines that are less likely to be found in export. Manuel Pinheiro, President of the Vinho Verde Commission, is this week’s special guest as we unravel Vinho Verde, and also reflect on some of the more human aspects of the wine business, like the family and community bonding, and the creation of traditions that bring and bind people together, which winegrowing makes possible. This episode is a perfect listening match when sunning at the lake or grilling sardines this weekend.

This episode was produced in partnership with the Vinho Verde Commission (CRVV).