Good Deals Disguised

April 20, 2008

Given that I buy a lot of wine I am always on the lookout for good deals. There are a lot of them out there, but it is not an easy task to weed out the low quality wines, which tend to be the extreme majority in the lower price range.

One category that virtually always delivers consistent quality is Portugal’s Vinho Verde. I had recently written about Vinho Verde in connection with a trip to Portugal. In short they tend to be very refreshing, light, slightly bubbly whites made in a style that is not really comparable to anything out there. On a warm day it would be hard to imagine something more perfect than a bottle of Vinho Verde. To top it all, they tend to be really good values across the board. One example is Aveleda Fonte, the higher end label of the Casal Garcia I wrote up back in December. This wine retails for $6 a bottle at Cost Plus in the US. That is 4 euros in a retail establishment! What an amazing value?!

So why the title good value disguised? I happened to come across this wine at a good seafood joint in Sausalito, CA called The Fish. This is a perfect place for a Vinho Verde. Imagine sunshine, t-shirt weather, sitting outside on the water and sipping on slightly sparkling, beautiful wine. The problem is The Fish marks up the wine to $27 a bottle eroding that fantastic value I expect from Vinho Verde. I think it is outrageous for a self service restaurant to charge $27 (no service included!) for a bottle that they probably buy at around $4-$4.50. 

So go Vinho Verde, I will buy you whenever I can get my hands on you, but I will also avoid places that take advantage of your great value and try to rip off customers on your back.


Name: Aveleda Fonte, Vinho Verde, 2007

Rating: 8 out of 10

Body: Light

Price: $6 retail, $27 at The Fish

Got it at: Cost Plus, San Francisco, CA

Aveleda Fonte, Vinho Verde, 2007


Vinho Verde, the Green Wine

December 8, 2007

I love Portugal. It has awesome weather, a beautiful coastline, rich history and great wine. Portugal not only has fantastic reds, whites and desert wines, it also has a category which is distinctly Portuguese. This is Vinho Verde, or Green Wine. Vinho Verde does not refer to the wine’s color, but the fact that it is new wine. It is mostly white, though reds also exist. The whites are a bit sparkling, fairly acidic, and are all very refreshing. They are absolutely perfect summer wines and relatively low in alcohol so you can have some with lunch and not feel like you want to fall asleep in the afternoon.

The last Vinho Verde I tasted was a perfect example of this category. Casal Garcia is from the house Quinta da Aveleda, which is the largest producer of Vinho Verde in Portugal. They make about 1 million cases of wine a year! What I admire about them is that even at this huge production they make consistently good quality wines. The Casal Garcia is made from four grapes: Trajadura, Loureiro, Arinto and Azal. This simple wine has quite a bit of citrus and apple (granny smith) and a load of fresh taste. I had it with fresh seafood in Lisbon on a sunny afternoon. I would not have chosen any other wine for the occasion. And it was the house wine. Spain, are you listening?

Name: Casal Garcia, Quinta da Aveleda, NV

Rating: 7 out of 10

Body: Light

Price: Almost Free (House Wine)

Got it at: Churrasqueira O Cofre, Lisbon, Portugal

Casal Garcia, Quinta da Aveleda, NV