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Regions

Comprehensive description of all European growing areas, their grape varieties, traditions and legal rules with maps.

Description to Vinho Verde

The Portuguese DOC area for red and white wines was already defined by law in 1908. The huge area comprises 60,000 hectares of vineyards in the districts of Braga, Porto and Viana do Castelo. It stretches 130 kilometres long and 70 kilometres wide in the north-west of Portugal between the Douro and Minho rivers, which form the border with Spain. The entire area is also classified as Vinho Regional (VR) for Rios do Minho country wines. The cool climate, with an average of 2000 mm of rainfall per year, is very much influenced by the nearby Atlantic Ocean. The area is divided into six subzones Amarante, Basto, Braga, Lima, Moncáo (considered the best) and Penafiel, which differ in the grape varieties grown. However, the subzone is usually not indicated on the bottle label. The vines are raised in a pergola-like foliage system (tendone). This is where about a quarter of Portugal's wine is produced. However, about 60% is produced as simple, unbottled draught wines that resemble cloudy cider. The vineyards are cultivated by about 30,000 winegrowers with very small vineyards, often on a sideline basis.

Vinho Verde means "green wine," but this refers not to the color (there are white, rosé and red varieties), but to the fresh taste, the green landscape and the fact that the wine is made from grapes that are still green. The cool climate, the training and the special grape varieties produce must with little sugar and high malic acid content. The grapes, which are rather unripe due to early harvesting, are fermented only briefly. In former times a malolactic fermentation took place afterwards, today mostly carbonic acid is added. This results in a wine that is rich in acidity, fresh and sparkling. A vintage appears rather rarely. Most wines have only 9 to 10% alcohol by volume and should be drunk young. Because of its freshness and low alcohol content, Vinho Verde is called "summer wine". Only the Alvarinho wines from Moncáo are allowed to have more than 11.5%, all others are only declared as Rios do Minho.

Since the adaptation to the EU guidelines in the early 1990s, half of the wines produced are red and half white. A distinction is made between recommended and permitted grape varieties; about 35 are permitted. For the deep-dark, acid accentuated and extremely astringent red wines, the recommended varieties are Azal Tinto (Amaral), Borraçal, Brancelho (Alvarelhão), Espadeiro, Padeiro de Basto, Pedral, Rabo de Ovelha and Vinhão. They are hardly exported. The white wines have a straw to lemon yellow colour. The "most genuine" Vinho Verdes are considered to be the dry wines with a sharp taste. The white varieties recommended for this are Alvarinho, Azal Branco, Avesso, Batoca, Loureiro, Pedernã(Arinto) and Trajadura. The best qualities are those from Alvarinho and Loureiro, which are also produced single-varietally. Well-known producers are Casa de Sezim, Casa de Vilacetinho, Casa de Vila Verde, Mendes, Ponte de Lima, Palacio de Brejoeira, Sogrape (Gazela, Morgadio de Torre, Quinta Avelada, Quinta Azevedo), Quinta do Ameal, Quinta da Franqueira, Quinta de Liaxa and Quinta do Tamariz.

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currently 143,255 Wines and 22,844 Producers, including 2,326 classified producers.
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