A Grape Idea
You've probably always thought of Vinho Verde wines the same way we did: as an easygoing form of fizzy summer refreshment, perfect for picnics and poolside sipping.
We have nothing against that style of wine. But the emergence of a new, more serious side of Portugal's Vinho Verde has forced us to reconsider the region's "fresh and simple" stereotypes.
Our current favorite example of this new style is the aptly named 2012 Anselmo Mendes Contacto Vinho Verde Alvarinho ($17 for 750 ml), made by one of the region's true innovators.
Most Vinho Verde comes from a blend of different indigenous grapes. During recent years, however, a handful of leading producers has started to experiment with single-varietal wines. The results have been stunning, particularly when using the Alvarinho grape--better known as Albariño across the Spanish border.
Unlike the majority of its peers, the Contacto undergoes 12 hours of maceration in contact with the grape skins. This yields a white wine of unparalleled richness and mineral depth, which still retains all of the region's signature thirst-quenching brightness.
We wouldn't blame you for drinking it by the pool, but this Vinho Verde belongs at the dinner table. Full of lush tropical fruit--imagine freshly cut pineapple and melons--it is an ideal companion to any crustacean.
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