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.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Viosinho - Douro, Portugal

I've lamented the lack of sources for Portuguese wine grapes in the past, and unfortunately, the situation hasn't changed very much in the past few months.  For all of the interesting grapes that Portugal has, there are very few resources available that discuss them.  What literature there is on a lot of the grapes is sparse at best, and non-existent at worst.  Today's grape, Viosinho, falls into the sparse category, and as a result, today's post is going to be pretty brief.

Viosinho is a white grape grown predominately in the very famous Douro region of Portugal.  The Douro is where nearly all of the Port produced in Portugal comes from, and though Viosinho is not one of the grapes used for the production of vintage Ports, it is sometimes used in the production of white port (along with Malvasia Fina and Gouveio/Godello), which is just like Ruby port except that it is made using white grapes rather than red.  Traditionally, the white grapes were crushed and left on their skins for some time (as in "orange wine" production), but today, many producers are drastically shortening the skin contact or eliminating it altogether in an effort to make lighter, more refreshing white Ports that are a little lower in alcohol as well.

The market for fortified wines has fallen dramatically over the last century or so, and Portuguese wine makers have taken note of this trend.  More and more table wines are being made in Portugal in general and the Douro in particular as winemakers are finding that table wines sell much more briskly and reliably than fortified wines.  Viosinho was often prized in Port production for its ability to retain its acidity in the hot, fast growing season in many parts of the Douro, but not many table wine producers were utilizing the grape in their efforts because it produces only a few bunches of very small grapes, which equates to low yields and thus fewer bottles produced.  The vine is also particularly susceptible to a handful of fungal diseases which isn't a problem in many of the hot, dry areas of the Douro, but it does limit the number of sites where it can be grown successfully.  Despite these drawbacks a few producers have decided to give it a shot, and the early results seem to be quite promising.

Much of the wine produced in Portugal is blended, and today's wine is no exception.  The 2008 Quinta de la Rosa is listed as being 60% Viosinha and 40% "other Douro varieties."  I picked it up from my friends at Curtis Liquors for about $20.  In the glass the wine was a medium silvery lemon color.  The nose was moderately intense with poached pear, pastry dough and lemon peel aromas with just something slightly buttery and oaky as well. On the palate the wine was on the fuller side of medium with medium acidity.  There were fresh, lemony citrus flavors with some  broader cooked pear and red apple fruits as well.  The hint of oak persisted on to the palate as well, but it was very well integrated.  The wine was surprisingly fresh given its age and probably could survive another few years in the bottle.  This isn't exactly my favorite style of wine, but it was well done and represents a good value for those who are looking for an alternative to big, oaky Chardonnays.

1 comment:

Mariano said...

If Quinta de la Rosa wines liked you, you have to try Quinta do Crasto ones, in Douro too. The white one, a coupage of Gouveio, Roupeiro, Cercial e Rabigato, is quite good, and the young Crasto (Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca ,Touriga Franca e Touriga Nacional) red is better.

And If you climb a little to the north (vinho verde area), I'm sure you would enjoy alvarinho Dorado.