Green red from Anselmo Mendes

Red vinho verde was, until recently, very difficult to find outside of the Minho region in the extreme north of Portugal. Usually served straight from the barrel at tascas in the region or bottled in 5 litre flagons, it was not generally considered as a quality wine and, over recent decades, its production has been dwarfed by white vinho verde. But long before the Minho became famous for the white wines produced from Alvarinho and Loureiro grapes, it was the reds that first put the region on the wine map.

An interesting fact is that the English used to import red wines from the Minho before they had even heard of the Douro valley. It was in the 14th century, long before the Douro was demarcated as a wine producing region, that red vinho verde became the first Portuguese wine ever to be exported.

The president of the regional commission for vinho verde production has been reported to see no future in their red wine but a few of the top producers in the region have recently made a stand by adding a red to their portfolio.

Amongst them is Anselmo Mendes whose Alvarinho whites are amongst the best on the market. Mendes has revived the old tradition of “Pardusco”, the name that the old wines exported from this region used to go by.

Quite unlike the inky green red wine typical of the region, this wine reminds us of a nice Claret. The structure is more in keeping with a white or rosé wine with young red fruits on the nose and hardly any tannins noticeable in the mouth. If I have any complaint about this wine, which should be served chilled, it is that it slips down all too easily!

Great value for money at €6 (Apolónia). As the weather warms up, this is the perfect summer barbecue wine, extremely versatile when it comes to food pairing.

By PATRICK STUART [email protected]