A blog devoted to exploring wines made from unusual grape varieties and/or grown in unfamiliar regions all over the world. All wines are purchased by me from shops in the Boston metro area or directly from wineries that I have visited. If a reviewed bottle is a free sample, that fact is acknowledged prior to the bottle's review. I do not receive any compensation from any of the wineries, wine shops or companies that I mention on the blog.
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Espadeiro - Vinho Verde, Portugal
Espadeiro is not just one grape, but rather a small family of grapes that are all, as far as I know, related to one another. The two main varieties are Espadeira Tinto and Espadeira Mole, which I'm guessing are distinguished based on the color of the grape skins, though I'm not completely sure. There are some sources that will have you believe that Espadeiro is the same as the Port grape Tinta Amarela, but this is only true for what is called Espadeiro in the area around Lisbon. In the Vinho Verde region, Espadeiro is a distinct variety that is unrelated to Tinta Amarela. There are a handful of synonyms for the grape, but most of them seem to be very geographically specific and don't really concern us here. The grape is considered a high quality variety on the Vinho Verde website, though the Oxford Companion to wine is slightly less enthusiastic about and really only references the grapes ability to yield profusely and ripen to low sugar levels.
This wine is from the Vinho Verde region of Portugal which is located in the extreme northern part of the country, just under the overhanging Spanish region of Galicia (Espadeira is also grown in Galicia, and surprisingly goes by the same name in both countries). It's easy to forget that Vinho Verde is the name of a wine region and not just the name of a style of wine, as most of the wines here are white and made from slightly underripe grapes with a hint of residual CO2, which can give them the "green" character alluded to in the name of the region and wine. There is a proportion of still red wine and rosé wine produced in the region, though they are definitely a little tougher to track down than their white counterparts. Vinho Verde is subdivided into nine different sub-regions, and Espadeiro is recommended for cultivation in eight of them, with Monção being the only exception.
UPDATE - I recently wrote about another Vinho Verde wine made from a grape called Padeiro, and in that post, I take another look at the Espadeiro grape and clear up some confusions. That post can be read here.