European Wine Regions
Europe has so much rich and and wonderful history. Majestic churches, ancient ruins, breathtaking cities. Europe also have a wondrous history of bucolic, ultra picturesque countrysides. Within those countrysides lie historic wine regions of international importance. In many cases, these are the gold standard of wine and food in the world. From Spain to Italy to France, and many more, it seems like more European countries enjoy the wonderful bounties associated with fertile soil and experienced artisans and farmers.
Portugal’s Vinho Verde Wine Region
The great nation of Portugal is blessed with a bounty of wonderful history, culture, food, and drink! The country is only approximately 10 million people in size, but it is certainly a powerhouse in a number of areas…and one is certainly one of them!
Portugal is a country with a great wine history. One of it’s regions is the Vinho Verde. The natural conditions of this region are ideal for the production of excellent white wines as well as sparkling wines and spirits. Much to my liking, the region produces great wines which, through their natural freshness and low alcohol, show enormous potential for producing great whites and reds, along with sparkling wines as well. For me, they also pari exceptionally well with al different types of foods.
Vinho Verde is were the first Portuguese wines exported to northern European markets all the way back in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
The Vinho Verde wine region is divided into nine sub-regions. I’m going to go a little bit more in depth into the Monção & Melgaço Sub-Region.
Vinho Verde’s Monção & Melgaço Sub-Region
As with many country’s regions and sub-regions, there are different microclimates associated with each area. The Monção & Melgaço sub-region’s microclimate is characterized by cold winters with intermediate rainfall, whereas summers are very hot and dry, which denotes a limited Atlantic influence.
This Vinho Verde subregion is where the Alvarinho (white) has its origin and where it began its evolution, and it is still the main varietal grown here, along with Pedral (red). The region is also great for Loureiro (white), Trajadura (white) with a number of other varietals growing in production. The region produces whites, reds, roses, and sparking wines as well.
White Wine Lunch with Monção & Melgaço
I had the privilege of being able to meet some great wine producers from this region at an intimate lunch in New York City. We enjoyed a wonderfully seasonal and typical menu for the region in the comfort of a private penthouse apartment in downtown NYC. The focus of the meal was a variety of Alvarinho white wines from the region, paired with a variety of fresh and delicious seafood dishes.
The amazing producers who were good enough to attend the lunch and share their stories and their great bounty with us were Vânia Azevedo from PROVAM, Ricardo Bastos and Armando Fontainhas from Adega Cooperativa e Regional de Monção, CRL. Wines from Soalheiro were also presented during the lunch.
Food: We began the lunch with some passed appetizers. One dish was Shrimp Ceviche and Cucumber Lettuce Wraps. Another dish was Poached Salmon, Lemon Creme Fraiche, Capers, and Chives served bruschetta-style.
First Dish: A very light dish, including Scallops artfully presented with Spring Greens, Beet, and Pomegranate.
First Wine Pairing: This dish was paired with two more wines, a more full bodied yet fruity Alvarinho Deu La Deu, Alvarinho, Reserva, White 2018 Adega Cooperativa e Regional de Monção, CRL.
Second Dish: The second dish was also very light and perfectly suited for fresh and crisp white wines. This dish featured Grilled Octopus accompanied by Marinated Tomatoes, Pickled Onions, and Fresh Herbs.
Second Wine Pairing: The first wine showed off the range of the wines from the region with the Portal do Fidalgo 25 anos, White, 2015 from PROVAM. This wine fermented in the vat along with the skins for 15 days and placed in 400 litre French oak barrels for a period of 12 months. The oakiness is very forward.
Food: The dessert was a surprise, as I feel it was more “American” in nature. The cake was light, good with wine, and reflective of Portuguese food and wine culture. The dish was a light Pound Cake with hints of Banana, topped with Strawberries in a Zuzu-Lemon Jam. It’s just about as light and fresh as a pound cake can be.
Wine Pairing: The wine for this course was a Vinha Antiga, Alvarinho, Reserva, White, 2017 from PROVAM. This wine is clarified at 12oC for 48 hours, then fermented and aged in French oak barrels for several months. It was a great pairing with the sweetness of the cake. It cut the cake nicely without being too oaky or too sweet as most dessert wines would tend to be.
The lunch and the wines were great! I really enjoyed the food and wine very much, indeed. The meal was such a perfect reflection of the Portuguese lifestyle.! The dishes were all very light and fresh. The setting was so NYC…hello World Trade Center!
The wines were bright and flavorful. I definitely favor the more crisp and acidic varietals, but the more oaky wines were great as well. The meal was such a perfect reflection of the Portuguese lifestyle and, I think, the Monção & Melgaço region! The producers were also very nice and easy to speak with.
While I was aware of the region and the wines before this lunch, I am now was big fan! We really get to enjoy these unique and flavorful wines, with the US being the #2 in the world in value of sales! Portugal is #1 in sales, Germany is #2 in volume!! It’s definitely worth taking a look in your local wine shop.
Find Out More
To find out more about these and other outstanding wines from this fantastic wine region, please be sure to check out VinhoVerde.pt!!
Guy and the Blog LLC was hosted at this luncheon for the purpose of this review. All opinions expressed are my own.