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Very Vinho Verde


Yes, it's summer. We need to deal with it. Here's one way: vinho verde.

If you have just enough romance language knowledge to be dangerous, you might now be thinking that I'm talking about “green” wine. Yes, and no. The green, in this case, refers to youth in this thoroughly delightful wine from the northwest corner of Portugal. We can all remember youth, can't we? A time when nothing required too much investigation, and all (or at least much) was right with the world. No, I don't yearn for it, but I don't mind in the least recalling days without the pressure of deadlines, relationships, global warmingâ?¦.

Enter Casal Garcia. One of the privileges of maturity is that people do assume you know something, however useless, and will send you stuff to prove the point. The promoters of this classic vinho verde branco (you'll understand why adding branco, or “white”, is necessary later), sent me a couple of bottles, and this is what I think about the first: It may be non-vintage (many are), but the lively wine in the bottle is much like the lacy labelâ??light, lightly spritzy, full of herbs such as tarragon and blossoms the likes of, oh, let's say, peach or apple. Drink it quite chilled, don't ponder, do congratulate yourself for appreciating a wine retailing for well under $10.

The other wine in the shipment actually had a corkâ??and a vintage date. It was the Aveleda Fonte 2009 Vinho Verde D.O.C. Also a tad bubbly, at least upon pouring, it did exhibit a little more complexity: more herbs, maybe a little melon. But I'm not sure that I didn't appreciate more the simpler bottle. Okay, it's a toss-up. Both would be good at poolside, at a picnic under the cypresses lining a Hill Country river (assuming you could keep the wine very cold), as a warm-up (or cool-down, maybe more appropriately) to a simple summer dinner of cold salmon, potato salad and fresh fruit with a squeeze of lemon.

There's another VV I've been tasting lately as well, this at the Saturday events at Saglimbeni Fine Wine. It's the equally affordable Santola Vinho Verde, and in this case, the green also comes in pink. (Both, also available at Central Market, retail around $7-$8. ) I do like the straight, white vinho verde from this producer, but the rosé version, a relative newcomer on the market, is sensational. "Juicy" was my first impressionâ??the juice reminding me of strawberry, raspberry, whichever you prefer. And, of bubble gumâ??but only in a good way. Assuming there is a good way. The added skin contact in the rosé means that you might even hitch this wine up with cold roast chicken, sausages with a little spiceâ?¦or, let's get real, just with your desire to drink something refreshing on a ridiculously hot summer day. As I said, not too much scrutiny.

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