During the summer of 2002, I discovered Vinho Verde and found it to be the quintessential white wine for hot, muggy weather.
We had just moved to Vermont 17 years ago from Las Vegas, arriving on a steam-bath July day that seemed much hotter than what we’d left behind in the desert Southwest. We scoured the area for a window air conditioner, and found all were sold out. Left to our own devices, my wife, Sandy, and I bought a fan and sought refuge from the heat in the coolness of a wine shop, where someone suggested Casal Garcia, a Vinho Verde with a pale, blue label that makes it look more like a product of Greece than Portugal.
The wine was an excellent antidote for the heat that night, and it’s still a go-to summer white, particularly because of its quality and $6-range price.
While Casal Garcia pretty much had the Vinho Verde market to itself back then, today there are a number of the Portuguese white blends available in Vermont and New Hampshire. I’ve tried most of them, and most are quite good and reasonably priced. But Broadbent stands out.
Unlike Casal Garcia, Broadbent is not mass produced by a corporation. It is made by one of Portugal’s best producing communes in collaboration with winemaker Bartholomew Broadbent, who comes from one of the world’s most influential wine families.
Bartholomew Broadbent, known by his nickname, Bollew, and owner of the Virginia-based Broadbent Selections and Broadbent wines, was raised in Great Britain. He began his training in the English wine trade, working in a formal apprenticeship for his father, author and wine critic Michael Broadbent, a Master of Wine who became famous as the head of the Christie’s wine auction house in London and is known for his expertise in fine and rare wines — the collectible bottles that don’t qualify for consideration in this column.
Michael Broadbent also wrote the book Wine Tasting, which was used by wine expert Steven Spurrier as a guide for the 1976 Judgment of Paris tasting that revolutionized the wine world and brought California wines into the spotlight.
Bollew Broadbent also is no slouch in the wine world. He is known as one of the world’s foremost experts on Port and Madeira and is credited with the growth of Port consumption in North America and the reintroduction of Madeira in the United States in the late 1980s. He has received accolades for his efforts from numerous wine publications and has been named one of the 50 most influential people in the wine world.
In addition to his eponymous line of wines, which includes Broadbent Port, Madeira and Vinho Verde in Portugal, Broadbent Malbec in Argentina, Broadbent Gruner Veltliner in Austria and The Curator in South Africa — all available in New England — his family-owned company is one of America’s leading wine importers. He lives in Virginia with his family and also distributes Virginia wines in more than 30 states, the company’s website says.
Broadbent Vinho Verde is produced at Quinta de Azevedo in the Barcelos commune, situated in the top quality area for Vinho Verde production. Vinho Verde, which means “green wine,” is traditionally non-vintage, a new wine made to be consumed soon after bottling. With some of the wines that are sealed with a cork, it is possible to find a vintage year, but since Broadbent and most of the other Vinho Verde wines now come with a screw cap that option is moot.
The wine is made from 50 percent Loureiro grapes, 40 percent Trajadura and 10 percent Pederna, which are pressed to extract free run juice that is blended and cold fermented. Malolactic fermentation is suppressed and carbon dioxide is injected at bottling to give the wine its characteristic fizz, the tasting notes say.
The result is a refreshing wine with lemon-lime and melon flavors that’s excellent for drinking on a hot summer evening.
Suggestions of wines in the $10 range are always appreciated. Warren Johnston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.