Vinho Verde Sampler Pack from our favorite producer!

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Hi everyone –

Talk about perfect timing.

The sun is out, the windows are open, and our furnace bills are going to be tiny. SPRING IS HERE. I’m typing this with the sounds of the birds in the backyard, with sun streaming through the room much to the enjoyment of the cats.

And this week’s offer is a DREAM of a collection from our favorite Vinho Verde producer. It’s rare to have all six in stock at the same time, but somehow the wine distribution gods and the weather gods got together and planned this perfectly.

Let’s get to it!

Vinho Verde, Chapter One

For most of the last twenty or thirty years, here is how most Vinho Verde was sold in the United States:

(Wine sales rep): “Our Vinho Verde is cheaper than the others.”

(Wine retailer): “Awesome, ship me five cases.”

Honestly, that was the extent of the marketing and sales push for this wine from the northern edges of Portugal. It was a race to the bottom on price, and unfortunately several brands won that race over the years and influenced the public perception of Vinho Verde into cheap, light, poundable, and great to serve to friends that don’t give a shit about quality or even what is in their glass. It became boat wine for the wine-bros and their girlfriends.

Vinho Verde, Chapter Two

It’s been well known for a LONG TIME in Portugal that Vinho Verde is a far more serious wine than most Americans ever thought. In fact, it was over fifteen years ago that Ryan Opaz, our good friend and Portugal tour specialist, first said to me “The best wines of Vinho Verde can compete with white Burgundy in terms of complexity and longevity.” I, of course, thought he was high on crack for saying something so dumb. But I was proven wrong five years later when, in Portugal, Ryan poured me a twenty year old Vinho Verde that was every bit as good as a Premier Cru wine from Burgundy.

But none of the good stuff was making it to America. Yet.

Vinho Verde, Chapter Three

Magical things started to happen around 2015. The best artisinal wine importers, focusing more and more on Portugal and the great quality to be found there, started tasting Vinho Verde during their research trips. Ever so slowly, higher quality wines started to arrive stateside. They were a hard sell at first, for the wines were going to be (god forbid) more than $12 on the shelf, in a category that was built on $5.99 bottles of lime water.

But quality will ALWAYS prevail, and slowly the Vinho Verde ship was heading in the right direction.

Cool things to know about Vinho Verde

There is far more variety than people realize. A range of grape varieties, a ton of micro-climates, and a long history of production makes this an area far more dynamic than most consumers realize.

Every bottle has a guarantee seal with a tracking number. When you look on a bottle of Vinho Verde, you’ll see a code. Plug that code into this website, and you learn a ton about that bottle including ownership, bottler, and date of bottling. For example:

About the Vinho Verdre “spritz.” The tradition of the spritz started back in the day when the wines were bottled just ahead of fermentation being done, resulting in a random amount of CO2 upon opening. Once Vinho Verde became known for this, it became common practice to shoot a little CO2 into the wine at bottling. HOWEVER, not every Vinho Verde has this, so don’t be surprised when you come across a non-spritzy Vinho Verde. In fact some of the top-level wines (and most ageworthy) actively avoid the spritz.

Almost half of the wines of Vinho Verde are red wines. But you don’t find many of them in America because the taste profile is foreign to us. Often, red Vinho Verde is not put through malolactic fermentation, resulting in a sharp and citric flavor profile that Americans can’t associate with a red wine. But when you travel there, and have the red wine with the local food, magic happens and you “get it.”

What we have here: a perfect Vinho Verde sampler pack

About ten years ago, one of our favorite local wine importers went to ProWein (the largest wine trade fair in the world, held in Germany every year) with the specific goal of finding a new lineup of Vinho Verde to import directly to Minnesota.

At ProWein you make appointments with producers and spend ten to twelve hours a day running from appointment to appointment to meet the producers, taste the wines, and possibly sign import contracts. It’s a ton of work, and exhausting. Our local importer had appointments with twenty Vinho Verde producers that day, tasting through upwards of 120 wines, and landed on Quinta da Raza.

Family owned (unlike most of the co-op wines coming from Vinho Verde … Don’t get me wrong, the co-op culture in Vinho Verde is fantastic and many of them make great wines, but it is rare to find a family owned winery in this area that makes enough wine to distribute to America), and founded in 1769. You can read about the family and see the timeline here.

This is a family and company that embraces quality, sustainable agriculture, and the specific grape varieties that Vinho Verde brings. Their point of distinction is all about individuality of wines at a fair price (not a race to the bottom while screwing with the quality).

Raza Vinho Verde: Their entry-level wine, blended from multiple varieties, and ONE OF THE TOP BARGAINS AVAILABLE IN MINNESOTA TODAY. STOCK UP!

The varietal wines of Vinho Verde

The best part about this sampler pack is you have access to all the main grapes of Vinho Verde, with the ability to try them side-by-side. NO OTHER VINHO VERDE AVAILABLE IN MINNESOTA allows you to do this. A perfect little wine education!

All varietal descriptions below are from, which is my go-to source for accurate grape variety info.

Arinto: Arinto covers the citrus fruit spectrum, led primarily by lemon and grapefruit. It can also show various stonefruit characteristics and can take on rich peach flavors when aged. Multiple sub-varieties of Arinto exist, although how distinct they are from the original is often unclear.

Azal Branco is a green-skinned wine grape variety found predominantly in the Minho region of northwest Portugal, where it is the second most-planted grape after Loureiro. Azal Branco is used to make the fresh, zingy whites of Vinho Verde DO and can be found in blends or, much less often, as single-varietal wines. The lesser-known Azal Tinto is the red variant of Azal Branco.

Azal Branco is a high-yielding variety that produces medium-sized, compact bunches of big berries. It is late ripening and high in acidity – the crispness of Vinho Verde wines is often attributed to Azal Branco.

Alvarhinho: (also known as Albariño in neighboring Spain)

The variety is often made into a lightly sparkling Vinho Verde wine in Portugal, which is commonly labeled varietally to distinguish it from the usual Louriero-based Vinho Verde blend. Here, the variety is known as Alvarinho.

The variety is high in acidity, and can be produced as a light white wine or in a fuller style, with oak or lees aging adding to the texture and richness. A marine characteristic from the nearby Atlantic ocean is often discernible, sometimes manifesting itself as a slight salinity, which makes Albarino a perfect food wine.

Trajadura: (also known as Treixadura) is one of the key grape varieties found in Portugal’s fresh Vinho Verde wines. Commonly combined with Loureiro, Alvarinho (Albarino) and Arinto, Trajadura adds body and alcohol to these wines, as well as crisp, citrus characters with some stonefruit and apple. The variety is increasingly being used to make high-quality wines on its own as well.

The Atlantic coast is a challenging terroir for growers, particularly in the northwest corner of the Iberian peninsula. The climate is cool and wet, which can often result in high levels of acidity and low levels of alcohol in the white grape varieties that grow there. Trajadura’s main drawcard for growers is its fairly low acidity and high levels of alcohol, which help to provide some balance to the region’s blended white wines.

Gouveio: Gouveio grapes produce fresh, lively wines with good acidity and plenty of body. The defining aromas are of citrus (fresh lime is particularly prominent in wines from cooler sites), complemented by subtle stonefruit notes and an occasional spicy whiff of aniseed. It ages well in bottle.

The variety is relatively early ripening and gives good yields of medium-sized, tightly-packed bunches of small, yellow-green grapes. Sensitive to fungal diseases such as oidium, Gouveio thrives only in warmer, dry, well-ventilated sites, which explains why it is found mainly in the more continental areas of inland Portugal.

Vinhão, Padeiro and Espadeiro: The red grapes of Vinho Verde are here used to make one of my favorite rosé wines.

Vinhao is at home in Portugal’s northern Minho region, where it is responsible for the majority of red Vinho Verde wines. Although Vinho Verde is typically perceived to be a white wine region, about 40 percent of its wines are tart, brightly colored reds.

Vinhao’s vineyard acreage is on the increase, and is spreading eastwards and inland towards the Douro (where it is called Sousao). Here, the variety’s natural acidity and depth of color is making it an increasingly popular inclusion in Port. Any wine destined for fortification and/or extended aging requires good acid structure, and Vinhao offers not only this but also high potential alcohol.

What you can see here is that the range of grape varieties in Vinho Verde make for a range of potential styles. This tapestry of possibility is the future of Vinho Verde without any doubt. As more and more people taste high quality Vinho Verde, we’re watching sales of the crap wines thankfully go down.

Buying advice – yes, these wines are that good!

We’ve packaged this offer in a variety of ways, from 12 packs and 6 packs, down to single bottles. I highly recommend the 12 pack. Then you get two bottles of each wine and you’ll be all set for springtime in the back yard.

If you like to plan ahead for the season and stock up (plus have wine for Easter), get multiple cases. That’s what I’m going to do, for this is my go-to collection for the next six months at home. These are the best prices you’ll see on this collection.

Thank you, everyone! We couldn’t do this without you!

Jason Kallsen
Sommelier and founder/owner of Twin Cities Wine Education

Offer is open Friday at 3:00pm central until Sunday evening, or as inventory lasts.

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