Displaying items by tag: Vinhão

The highlight of the whole trip for me was our visit to Afros (www.afros-wine.com), also known as Casal do Paço, where we met owner Vasco Croft. In producer terms, this is a small-scale, handcrafted operation. Vasco has a 20ha farm and only 7ha under vine, cultivated biodynamically and producing 20,000 bottles a year (5,000 litres), although he aims to increase this to 100,000 bottles eventually. Although the family have owned this property since the 17th century they are new to wine production and this is only their 4th vintage.

Perhaps it was the pervading sense of calm and peacefulness that made this visit so attractive, together with the warmth, hospitality and slightly spiritual air of our host who had more than a passing resemblance to Richard Gere. Vasco Croft

Or perhaps it was the beautifully rustic surroundings of the family dinning room accompanied by Vasco's family (bother, sister in law and young daughter) and the delightful lunch which started with a very fresh and fragrant sparkling wine aperitive and a colourful salad of wild flowers, goats cheese and figs, followed by delicately flavoured black pasta with cream and ham.

What stood out as well of course was the obvious high quality of the wines; it all made for a special occasion. The white wines had a lovely purity and delicacy and the reds were a revelation.

Vasco also made a very useful broad comment on Portugal – “The north is cool and, the colours are all green and blue, the soils are granite and the people are traditionally more right-wing; the south is hot and the colours are red and yellow with limestone soils and it is politically left-wing."



According to Vasco, Vinhão (the deeply-coloured red variety widely used in Vinho Verde) “is like a wild flower of the forest. You need to give some finesse to its wildness. It is a challenge to work with and to drink”.

For me, the red Vinho Verde 2005 here made from Vinhão was the best red wine we tasted on the whole trip. It won a silver medal at the Decanter Wine Awards - a surprise for everyone involved as Vinho Verde reds are not supposed to be suited to the British palate.

Afros Vinhão 2005 – Still very youthful opaque purple core and narrow rim – smoky, leathery notes on the nose are followed by spice and dried rose petals and perfume notes. Very smooth initial attack on the palate with a good weight of creamy, dark berry fruit and dried roses and floral notes – smooth, powerful and long. Vasco certainly tamed Vinhão’s wildness in this one.

We also tried the 2007 Afros Vinhão which was a bit impenetrable and very young but also smooth and densely flavoured. There was also a sparkling red Vinhão which was a big success with many of our group. Bright purple in colour, with rubber and mint notes and lively raspberry and blackberry fruit. Unusual but very enjoyable.


Forming with Alvarinho the most aromatic duo of Vinho Verde varieties, Loureiro finds its fullest expression in Lima Valley. With primary aromas where citrus fruits predominate, young Loureiro wines typically show floral notes of Laurel and Roses. Litchi, peach, apple and perfumed melon are other possible nuances around the citric core. As it ages (good Loureiro wines age marvelously) the minerality comes forth with smokeyness and petroleum, with hints of dried fruits, orange blossom and honey.
“Loureiro is a grape so light and subtle it makes Audrey Hepburn look like a heavy weight”. Jonathan Nossiter

Loureiro Vines

Casal do Paço:
Soil: granitic, sandy.
Exposition: South/Southwest
Year of plantation: From 1992 to 2007
System: single chord
Area: 2,20Ha

Soil: granitic, sandy.
Exposition: South
Year of plantation: 2007
System: single chord
Area: 1,06Ha

Soil: Sandy granitic, Limestone
Exposition: South
Year of plantation: 2009
System: single chord
Area: 4,08 Ha

Soil: Sandy granitic, limestone
Exposition: Southwest
Year of plantation: 1992 and 2010
System: Single chord
Area: 3,00 Ha


A teinturière grape which the most planted red variety in the Vinho Verde Region. It is known as Sousão in Douro, where it is used for making assemblages for Port wine. Very deep in color, Vinhão wines are intensely fruited (black cherries, raspberries, cassis), tannic and with a challenging acidity that makes them highly gastronomic.
Due to their irreverent and unusual character, Vinho Verde reds are probably the most original and at the same polemic wines of Portugal. The attention paid in recent years by international writers to Afros Vinhão has raised the discussion, making it one of the most talked about Portuguese varieties.

Vinhão Vines

Casal do Paço:
Soil: Sandy granitic
Exposition: South
Year of plantation: 1998
System: Single chord
Area: 1,5 Ha

Casa Nova:
Soil: Sandy granitic, Limestone
Exposition: South
Year of plantation: 2009
System: Single chord
Area: 2,17 Ha

On one of my trips to Portugal this year - in May - I made a brilliant discovery. [Of course, I'm not referring to my process of discovery as brilliant; rather, it was what I discovered that was brilliant.] It's red Vinho Verde. I'd heard it mentioned many times, but had never tried it. But I was curious, because most people seemed to think of it as an oddity verging joke status. So when I saw it on a wine list at the hotel I was staying at I ordered a bottle. It was absurdly inexpensive, and arrived chilled. I popped the cork and poured it - it was a deep, intense, vivid, youthful red purple colour, with a trace of spritziness. And it tasted beautiful: sharp, tannic, vibrantly fruity, juicy, slightly green but sweet at the same time, and a brilliant foil for most foods with its high acidity.


Then, a few days later, in a small restaurant in Guimaraes, I ordered a carafe of house red. The waiter came with a jug of darkly coloured, vibrant, youthful red Vinho Verde that tasted just like it had finished fermenting. It was dark, intense, fruity, tannic and acidic - and so full of life. And it cost just a few Euros.


But when I visited Vinho Verde in November, I had to ask producers to show me their red wines. They just didn't think foreign journalists would be interested in such a 'local' taste. Indeed, it's hard to find the wine outside the region - even in Lisbon you just don't see it, despite the fact that quite a bit is made.


Vinhao is the principal grape that red Vinho Verde is made from. It's also known as Sousao in the Douro, and its distinctive characteristic is that it is a teinturier, a red fleshed grape. This explains the incredible intensity of colour that these wines have. Generally, I really like wines where the grapes struggle for ripeness and only just achieve it, as the Vinhao does in the north of Portugal.


I don't know why the Portuguese are so apologetic about Vinhao. It's an extreme taste, with high tannins and acidity, but this is offset by the amazing fruit presence, and the youthful character of the wines. They have rough edges, but so do many interesting people. Vinhao should be cherished as something unique, delicious, and thoroughly gastronomic.


Two Vinhaos have prompted this post. They are both from the same producer, Afros: one is still and one is sparkling. They're utterly brilliant wines, but not for everyone. The estate is being run biodynamically, with Rui Cunha (Covela) as the consultant winemaker.


Afros Vinho Verde Tinto Vinhao 2007 Portugal
Remarkable stuff, and pretty refined by Vinhao standards. Opaque inky-dark red black colour with a purpe rim. Intense, sweet but savoury pure raspberry and cranberry fruit nose. The palate has a slightly spicy spike under the intense, pure, cherry, raspberry and plum fruit with a spicy, tannic bite. Brilliantly vivid, savoury and moreish with a gastronomic character. Great fun, but with a serious side. I love it. 92/100


Afros Vinho Verde Tinto Espumante 2006 Portugal
Another Vinhao, this time the sparkling version. Really deep red/purple in colour, this sparkling red is really food friendly. There's nice vivid dark fruit here with a hint of chocolatey richness and a trace of meatiness. Lovely acidity and some delicious tannic grip. But it shows some refinement, too. This is delicious stuff that would work brilliantly with a wide range of foods. 91/100


VARIETY: Vinhão 100%
AREA: ± 20 ha
PRODUCTION / HA: ± 4.000 litros / ha
HARVEST DATE: 26 to 27 September
ALCOHOL: 11,00 % Vol.
RESIDUAL SUGAR: 6,80 g / dm3
TOTAL ACIDITY: 6,70 g (Tartaric Acid) / dm3
pH: 3,55
VINIFICATION:Fermentation with maceration in granite tanks at temperatures between 19 and 22oC. Foot treading. After fermentation maceration with skins in inox vats / Pressing / Malolatic fermentation / Aging "sur lies" / Filtration / Bottling
PRODUCTION: 7.500 litres - 10.000 bottles
BOXES PER LAYER: 12 or 14 boxes
BOXES PER PALETTE: 96 or 112 boxes
BEST SERVED: 12 to 15 oC

Tasting Notes: Opaque violet color. the aroma shows red fruits and some vegetal, with sower cherry and cassis notyes, complexed by spicy and mentholated nuances. On the palete firm yet round tannins prevail, in hand with a crisp acidity that makes this wine enormously gastronomic and persistent.

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VARIETY: Vinhão 100%    
AREA: ± 2,0 ha
PRODUCTION / HA: ± 4.000 litros / ha
HARVEST DATE: 1 to 10 October 
ALCOHOL: 12,50 % Vol. 
RESIDUAL SUGAR: 2,9 g / dm3 
TOTAL ACIDITY: 7,3 g (Tartaric Acid) / dm3
pH: 3,41
VINIFICATION: Fermentation with maceration in granite tanks and inox vats at temperatures between 19 and 22ºC / pressing / decantation / bottling
PRODUCTION: 6113 litres - 8150 bottles

Tasting Notes:
Deep crimson color with a violet halo. Intense and vigorous aroma, with predominant notes of red wild berries and spices. In the mouth, fine and smooth tannins confirm the excellent structure with a long lasting, potent final.

Gastronomic : Accompanies portuguese traditional dishes, as well as Italian, Indian, Thai or any kind of spicy cuisine.

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