A mystery red revealed

I saw this bottle on the shelf at the Convent’Bio farm shop in Lagoa and the first thing I noticed was that there is no year of vintage mentioned on the label.

Then closer inspection revealed that there is not a region mentioned or, for that matter, any grape varieties. The back label talks only of how the sea where it is made is deeply blue and the vineyard always green.

I would have been reluctant to part with €10 for a bottle had it not been for the web address of Casa de Mouraz and the name of the winemaker, António Lopes Ribeiro, appearing on the label.

A quick visit to the website of this highly-respected organic producer revealed nothing, but I decided to persevere and, after some more digging, discovered that this is actually an example of the modern style of red Vinho Verde.

Two of the Vinho Verde region’s top producers both launched such wines onto the market with considerable success over recent years; the superb Soalheiro Oppaco and the price-friendly Pardusco from Anselmo Mendes.

The concept encompasses a new take on the inky red Vinho Verde Tinto of old, focusing on the traditional red-fleshed Vinhão grape but with minimal skin contact and the addition of a touch of white wine.

In this case, we have 75% Vinhão, 20% of white Loureiro and 5% of Barroçal, another red grape. The wine comes from 30-year-old granite soil vineyards located just 2kms from the sea in Portugal’s northernmost Minho region.

This is a minimum intervention wine, foot-trodden and left with the skins for just five hours before naturally fermenting for one week and then ageing in stainless steel until bottling. The result is a light and dry red with fresh aromas of wildflowers and red fruits, excellent acidity and a lovely freshness. Best served slightly chilled.

patrick.stuart@open-media.net