Text Ilkka Sirén
Sparkling wine has a unique place in our society. It is treated, talked about and consumed quite differently than any other beverage. Champagne’s centuries long marketing campaign has left a permanent festive stigma which affects the way we drink sparkling wine. It’s all about celebration, you see. Luckily nowadays there seems to be a trend towards more casual approach to bubbles. People popping bottles during the week without any major reason to celebrate. It is becoming more like your everyday wine than a festive statement that people use to underline the fact that “we are having a party”.
Despite the ongoing evolution in the world of wine, sparkling wine remains pretty much unchanged. It feels like nobody dares to break the marriage of wine and bubbles, and just perhaps create something different. Doing so is considered almost sacrilegious. But every now and then you do come across sparkling wines that make you snap out of this weird state of vinous dormancy.
Such a wine was Aphros Vinhão Super-Reserva Bruto. I visited a wine tasting here in Helsinki and came across a bottle of their red bubbles. Which doesn’t happen that often. First I thought “ah, Lambrusco” but to my surprise it came from Portugal, and from Vinho Verde of all places. Even though the wine region of Vinho Verde is well-known for its fresh white wines, there are some great red wines being produced there. One of the classics is a deep-coloured red wine from a grape called Vinhão. It produces wines so intensely red that after a glass you will look like a character from Twilight. Additionally the wines are usually acidic and quite tannic making it not the most approachable drop for novices. To make it even more bizarre it is traditionally enjoyed from a porcelain cup with seafood like grilled fish or a grim-looking lamprey. The end result, delicious.
The wine itself was opaque with a red and purple hue. On the nose it was full of red berries and spices. An explosion of aromas both familiar and exotic. The mouthfeel was something else. Nothing can prepare you for it if you haven’t had this kind of wines before. The “mousse” was rich and more textured than your average sparkling wine. Quite intense yet surprisingly fresh at the same time. Plenty of spicy and earthy flavors with a nice tannin grip at the end. The finish had a similar refreshing bitter touch that you get from a very hoppy IPA beer. A bit herbal and vegetal but not in an unripe way.
Although it was not exactly a mainstream wine, I could actually see many people enjoying this. It might require a certain mindset going in and maybe some nice food to go along with it. But I think many people could appreciate the uniqueness of this wine. I have tasted only a handful of wines in my life that come close to what this wine has to offer. Daring? Yes. Viable? Who knows. Tasty? Abso-frigging-lutely!
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