Today at BWR we're looking at a couple of white Portuguese table wines. This is a further exploration of the Vinho Verde/Minho River region, which has far more depth than the simple but fun "green wine" that most people know. It's also a region curious for bottles: even some of the whites like this one get a little blue tinge to the glass to give that verde look, but I'm fascinated by the tall conical bottle of Alvarinho. Do any readers know the name of that bottle style? It's just 750mL, though too tall to fit upright in the refrigerator (or on its side in the wine fridge), but I love the shape and I'm thinking that this is going to live on my counter as an olive oil repository. Not only will the dark glass protect the oil, but I can provide a slight drizzle over crostini from across the dinner table.
2011 Las Lilas Vinho Verde Branco
Loureiro and Treixadura
$8, 10% abv.
Light and mild, lemon and rose petals, just a touch of acidity and a pleasant finish. Not fizzy at all like the more well known Vinho Verde, just a mild white table wine. I had this with grilled salmon and steamed sweet corn, and the latter turned out to be a pairing made in heaven. I wasn't missing the buttered popcorn flavor of a heavily oaked chardonnay, but it was so much fun to enjoy the light wine between bites of salty, buttery corn.
2011 Arca Nova Alvarinho
Vinho Regional Minho (sort of a Portuguese Vin de Pays designation)
100% Alvarinho (Albariño)
$13, 13% abv.
Slightly dusty aroma of dried apricot, but very slight. Very austere with low acidity, good minerality, a round mouthfeel, and a quick finish. It's a solid wine, but doesn't really shout about any of its characteristics. Almost too mild for food, but on its own it's remarkable in its restraint. I don't often compare wines to songs, but this one made me think of Njósnavélin by the Icelandic group Sigur Rós. Ignore the images in the fan video, just listen to the song and think of a stony, restrained white wine that is nothing like the tinny Pinot Grigios or fat Chardonnays that dominate the market.
Both of these are highly recommended great bargains, but also tie in to my constant advice that there are so many affordable, delicious, food-friendly wines from the Iberian peninsula. You won't be wowed every time for under $15, but you'll rarely be disappointed and once the food is on the table, you'll figure out why these wines were developed there over the past four thousand years.
Note: These wines were received as samples.