The Rise of Single variety Vinho Verde

21 April, 2016

“It’s a bit of a shock as it is big, ripe, aromatic, fragrant, peachy and often running to 14% alcohol.” He adds: “In terms of farming and production Loureiro is probably the easiest to promote as it is a large cropper and accounts for the majority of plantings.” Oakley sees these single variety wines as competitors to the recently popular Italian single varietal whites – wines such as Fiano, Falanghina and Pecorino. “These Vinho Verde varietals are better – much more vital, yet with a profile of clean, pure, semi-fragrant wines of 12% alcohol,” he says. “As such I think they are right on the money and very exciting. The market demands this kind of wine.”


So who are the producers leading this change? In the Ave sub-region of the Vinho Verde, Casal de Ventozela is a dynamic producer with 25ha of vines. It grows Loureiro, Arinto and Treixadura as its main varieties, but also some Alvarinho, Espadeiro and Vinhão. Ventozela is one of the leading proponents of single-variety Vinho Verde, and winemaker Pedro Campos makes the wines, which are affordably priced, in a very clean, fruit-driven style.

Quinta de Gomariz is in the Vale do Ave sub-region, right in the heart of Vinho Verde country. Winemaker António Sousa believes in single-variety Vinho Verde. “The people want to see the varieties, and the easy way to explain this is with single varieties,” he says. “If they know the profile of the variety they can understand the blend.”

Alvarinho is one of his favourite varieties: “It’s almost impossible to have a bad wine from this,” he says. Loureiro is another: “It can make an excellent wine or a terrible wine – now we are seeing excellent wines from Loureiro.” Avesso also gets a mention. Yields are good, which helps keep the cost of the wines down. Typically Loureiro will give 10 tons/ha and Alvarinho 7 tons/ha, with the others somewhere in between. Some years Loureiro can deliver 16 tons/ha without any quality problems.

In the east of the region lies the sub-region of Baião, the most inland and warmest part of Vinho Verde, just before you enter the Baixo Corgo of the Douro. Located in Santa Marinha do Zezere, the Quinta de Guimarães is home to a relatively new project, Cazas Novas. This brand is based on the grapes from this 25ha vineyard. Established in 2004, Cazas Novas is run by the owner, Carlos Coutinho, whose family have had the property for seven generations; winemaker Diogo Fonseca Lopes, who has worked closely with Vinho Verde legend Anselmo Mendes; and Vasco Magalhães, son of Sogrape’s Vasco Magalhães, who is the sales guy. The slightly warmer climate here helps make wines with a bit more richness, but this is still very much Vinho Verde, with a freshness and brightness, in part contributed by the decomposed granitic soils. Rather than being Alvarinho territory, this is where Avesso shines.

Also grown here, and doing well, are Arinto and Loureiro. These are wines without spritz, with a bit more presence in the mouth. “A lot of us are working in this direction of Vinho Verde with no carbon dioxide,” says Diogo Lopes. He’s keen on Avesso. “I like it mainly because of the mouthfeel; it is not just aromatic interest.”

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