Beetroot for dinner last night and what better match, colour-wise at least, than Vinhão. This, Vinho Verde’s lead red variety, is a teinturer grape which means it has red skin and flesh, so its wines are the deepest shade of purple. Amazingly, my beige shorts (pictured below) survived the triple whammy of beetroot and a pair of red Vinho Verde from Vinhos Norte: Tapada dos Monges Vinho Verde Tinto 2009 and Vinhão 2009!
The traditional match for this inky, vivaciously sappy (high acid) red, which can be surprisingly high in tannin too, is hearty meat dishes like stew. In summer, I’d suggest meat eaters pair it with salami. For veggies, try it with pan fried halloumi instead (smoky, fatty and salty, it’s a great salami/bacon substitute), which I combined with the oven roasted beetroot in a salad. And serve the wines chilled – they really are perfect summer reds – here are my notes:
Tapada dos Monges Vinho Verde Tinto 2009 – this blend of Vinhão (60%), Amaral (20%) and Padeiro (20%) just picked up a gold medal in the Best of Vinho Verde Awards (see here). A bright, deep shade of purple with a bit of spritz (almost impercetible in the mouth), it shows sweet blackcurrant with fresh picked bilberries (my childhood recaptured and yep, then, the shorts would not have survived!), with a hint of stalk/stem and slightly tart acidity, though it’s well balanced by the vivid fruit and a touch of residual sugar (?). A very well made, relatively easy drinking red Vinho Verde.
Tapada dos Monges Vinho Verde Vinhão 2009 – 100% Vinhão this is inky black and a little eathier/stalkier on the nose with a cool carbonic note (again, there’s just a light spritz from retained CO2). It’s livelier in the mouth with sour plums, blackberries, kirsch, ripe rhubarb and an edge of white pepper and raddichio. More intense and a little more hard core with lurking powdery tannins, but really good, bright summer drinking. A refreshing change!
The Vinhos Norte wines are not yet listed in the UK and it’s not easy to find Vinhão but Quinta das Arcas Arca Nova Vinhão 2008, which I tasted last year, is worth checking out - £10.95 at Slurp.
Coming up, some more summer reds to serve lightly chilled, this time from the Loire. Not just Cabernet Franc either. And tomorrow, another fab summer wine and food combo with South Australia stamped all over it - Primo Estate’s Joseph d’Elena Pinot Grigio 2009 and cucumber gazpacho, for which I’ll pass on renowned Barossa chef Maggie Beer’s recipe. Watch this space…