Bargain white that defies assumptions and expectations

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Hi everyone –

Happy Memorial Day weekend to all!

This week’s offer is one of those “trust Jason” offers. As you know, I don’t bullshit about wines, and I don’t spin tall tales in a desperate attempt to make you buy them. I operate independently and honestly, so I hope what I’m about to say rings with the reverence I intend it to.

THIS IS ONE OF THE BEST WHITE WINES I’VE HAD THIS YEAR. IT’S LOADED WITH COMPLEXITY, HONESTY, VERVE, AND BALANCE. IN SOME WILD WAYS, IT REMINDS ME OF WHITE BURGUNDY. REALLY, REALLY GOOD WHITE BURGUNDY.

AND IT’S A FOUR-YEAR-OLD VINHO VERDE.

What’s going on here?

In 2014, on my first trip to Portugal, our good friend Ryan Opaz casually dropped a line over dinner. We were talking about misconceptions in the wine world. I talked about Syrah needing to be full-bodied (medium is far better). There are red wines that go great with fish. That kind of thing.

The Ryan said something that made no sense to me:

“Yeah, one of the biggest things to me is that everyone, especially Americans, thinks Vinho Verde can’t age. A great Vinho Verde ages beautifully, for decades! It’s like Puligny-Montrachet!”

I called bullshit right away. No chance. What what he smoking that led him to say that?

As what happens so often when I hang out with Ryan, he ran away and came back with a fifteen-year-old Vinho Verde from a good (but not particularly great) producer. He popped it. He poured it. I tasted it. And I stood corrected.

Now, take note …

Not all Vinho Verdes can age gracefully. Many, especially those from larger producers fighting for placements based on price, will fall apart after a year or two.

I’m talking about the smaller producers—the ones that embrace the terroir of Vinho Verde and tend to their vines with the same care and consideration as the best wineries in the world.

Sidebar: Want to learn more about this region and the grapes that are grown? Here is a fantastic site that will break everything down for you with clear and accurate information: https://vinepair.com/wine-blog/7-things-you-need-to-know-about-vinho-verde/ They also discuss the age-worthiness of these wines.

What we have here: 2020 VERA Vinho Verde

Vera is a brand brought into the United States by one of our favorite importers, Ole and Obrigato (specializing in Spanish and Portuguese wines). This importer is fantastic at finding small, quirky, and independent wineries that produce wines of distinction.

Vera is an estate run by only two people who farm 104 separate parcels of grapes. You read that right.

As the label says, it’s a true farm-to-table wine made in such a way that it’s one of the most serious Vinho Verdes I’ve ever had. It has extremely low residual sugar (the wine tastes dry) and less CO2 than others. The aromas and flavors are rich, complex, layered, and bright, thanks to the acidity and the wee touch of spritz.

We enjoyed this wine over the course of four hours and it seemed to only get better with air. But we couldn’t keep our hands off of it … once you have a sip, you crave more … and before you know it, we polished off the bottle.

Think ripe apples, pears, lilac blossoms, limestone and slate, quice, and gardenia. This is so layered and complex that it kinda boggles the mind.

The wine has not only aged gracefully, but it has gotten better with a bit of time. I looked in my notes and I’ve had this vintage four times, the last time being a year ago. Time has done wonders and has brought out amazing results.

George is very excited about the wine, as you can tell (well, if you know George you can tell).

This is the kind of wine I love to find for you

Wines like this are almost impossible for wholesalers to sell. Retailers flat-out reject the wine based on age alone, fearing that their customers will never willingly and with excitement grab a 2020 Vinho Verde (2023 is already on the market). Most restaurants won’t commit to it because there isn’t enough to run by-the-glass for a month. So the remaining stock just sits there until it’s brought to my attention. My sales rep for the distributor tasted it and immediately contacted me. Thank you, sir!

From the importer’s website:

When Vera Vinho Verde launched the 2010 vintage we felt a quality vinho verde was missing. Our ambition was to produce a better vinho verde: estate fruit only, less RS and less carbonation; all of which runs against the norm for other offerings from the region. A little known fact about Portuguese winemaking history is that in the 50’s and 60’s, the Portuguese government, under pressure from the wine industry, resisted the arrival of Coca-Cola and soft drinks. Vinho Verdes, with their light alcohol and slight carbonation, were the soft-drink du jour, the drink people could have for lunch or when meeting with a friend. The Vinho Verde DOC is in northwest Portugal, just north of the warm Douro River Valley. It is rainy, mountainous and intensely green. The Basto sub-region where Vera is located is primarily granite soil, planted inland with vines that are between 10 and 35 years old. Cold damp winters are flowed by a mild spring and summer.

https://www.oleobrigado.com/wine/804-vera-vinho-verde-branco

BUYING ADVICE

This wine tastes three or four times more expensive than it is. It’s a serious stock-up wine, perfect for summer dinners when you want to impress your guests. Drink it anytime between now and 2026. Once you finish your last bottle you will cry and wish you had more.

Thank you, everyone!

Jason Kallsen
Sommelier, founder of Twin Cities Wine Education


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