2017 Aphros Vinhao Tinto
Region: Vinho Verde < Portugal
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Certified biodynamic farming; granite soils; grapes are destemmed and foot trodden in ancient granite tanks (lagarcs); bottled unfined/unfiltered with minimal So2; 10.5% ABV
Winemaker: Vasco Croft
Vinho Verde is a wine region in the northwestern part of Portugal, with a lush, green landscape, cooler climate, and a granite soils that give the wines a distinctive freshness. But what do you think of when you think of Vinho Verde? Probably bright, spritzy, acidic white wines that fall into in the "cheap and cheerful" or "day drinking" categories. Bravo, you're pretty much on the mark! The region is mostly known for its whites (86 percent of total sales). But have you heard of red vinho verde? Nope? Well, neither had we, which is why we were surprised to learn that, until the early 90s, red wine dominated production there. And that, culturally, red Vinho Verde is as essential to meals as water. And that, in just over 15 years, red wine has dropped to a mere 9 percent of Vinho Verde sold. Because the red version, mostly made from the Vinhão varietal, can be a highly polarizing wine. It's a deep, inky, intense grape, often rustic and tannic, that almost coats the glass – and your tongue. Essentially, the typical red Vinho Verde wines just didn’t translate to the export market, and most estates dropped it to ride the “cheap and cheerful” white wave.
But not the folks at the biodynamic Aphros estate, which has been in Vasco Croft’s family since the 17th century. They couldn’t abandon the vinhão, which was growing wild on the property when Vasco returned to the vineyard and restarted production in 2004. "This is what the workers and farmers of this region drink," he says. "They only drink white on special occasions." We’re with the workers and farmers, preferring to drink this refreshing red Vinho Verdo that sports a Beaujolais-like berry fruit with sour cherry, spice and an intense mineral backbone. Super unique, delicious and affordable. Serve slightly chilled.