Many of us think of Port when we think of Portugal, however, I found an amazing value in a Portuguese white wine from the Minho area. Minho lies in the Northwest corner of Portugal. Being a cooler part of Portugal, white wines predominate. The Vinho Verde DOC in Minho, is the 2nd largest DOC in the country.
Literally translated Vinho Verde means Green Wine, however, the Verde implies a youthful wine. These wines usually have a light frizzante to them. White grapes allowed in the area are more indigenous and include: Alvarinho, Arinto, Avesso, Azal, Batoca, Loureiro and Trajadura.
I chose a Espiral Vinho Verde with 9% alcohol. The color was a light lemon-pink. The nose was crisp with mineralistic notes and the palate was crisp, fresh, off dry and showcased noses of green apples, minerals, and honey. It finished under 20 seconds and it paired beautifully with my mango crusted salmon. At less than $6 at Trader Joes, it’s a steal for summer!
While on a wine tour of our Viticulture and Enology program at the Southwest Wine Center at Yavapai College, in Clarkdale, Arizona, my guests and I were amazed to learn that this teaching winery is contemplating utilizing a sugar cane cork for some of their rose’ and white wines.
What is a sugar cane cork? They are plant-based synthetic corks made from non-GMO sugar cane and are manufactured by the Nomacorc company in Brazil. These corks are marketed as 100% recyclable with zero carbon footprint and consistent oxygen control. I personally haven’t seen one yet, but they are reported to have a similar appearance to natural cork.
Sustainability is a driving force for many of the vineyards and winemakers in Arizona, and the choice of wine bottle closures is no exception.
Substitutions for natural cork have been going on for quite a few years and we’ve seen movement towards synthetic corks and metal screw tops, both of which are not the best choice for sustainability and our environment.
It will be interesting to see how these new corks will be received and how this newer material will maintain and age the wines, prevent TCA, and impact sustainability.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive, easy drinking red then the Bolla, Rosso Veronese 2013 is a good choice for under $10. This IGT (Indicasione Geografica Tipica, the category above table wines in Italy) was clear with a Ruby-Garnet color and had 12.5% alcohol. According to their tech sheet, the grapes used were Corvina, Rondinella, Merlot and Cabernet. The nose displayed aromas of earth, cherry and alcohol, the later of which blew off after being opened for around 10 minutes. It had a medium body with low tannins and the flavor showcased notes of cherry, plum, black fruit, cinnamon and vanilla. The finish however was quite short at around 15 seconds. It paired nicely with my chicken stir fry but, would also accompany mature cheeses and meats beautifully.
Over 75% of wine grapes grown in Arizona come from the Wilcox and Sonoita area. When traveling through Sedona and the Verde Valley, you’ll find grapes growing in Page Springs, Cottonwood, Camp Verde, Clarkdale the Village of Oak Creek and Jerome, yet no commercial wineries exist in Sedona. It’s interesting to note, that the first commercial vineyard in Arizona was just outside of Sedona. The owner of Red Rock Winery, Henry Schuerman, a baker from Germany and his wife Dorette had 76 acres under vine close to Sedona. They planted Zinfandel and supplied miners and other locals with their single varietal wine. Unfortunately, Schuerman was arrested during Prohibition and lost his vines as Oak creek changed it’s course and ruined the vineyard, with few vines surviving.
It took until the 1970’s for the Arizona wine industry to reboot again and it’s growing almost exponentially in both the Northern and Southern parts of the State. Winning the “Best in Show” at the San Francisco Chronicles wine competition in both Viognier and Montepulciano, along with multiple Gold and Double Gold Medals, Arizona can be very proud of our growth. achievements and delicious wine.
Sue Schurgin is the manager of Sedona Wine and Beer Tours. She is studying for her CSW and sommelier certifications.