Vinho Verde wines have an accent on freshness

I THOUGHT spring had sprung this week –  then blinked and it was raining again.

In the time when the sun did shine   I sneaked outside with a glass of vinho verde wine.  It is a wine you should try  if you like your wines to be gentle and refreshing. The accent is definitely on freshness from grapes grown in the northern part of Portugal influenced by the Atlantic Ocean.

Don’t expect depth and complexity, but as a midweek spring garden wine, then  it is  a good option. By its nature it has a little sparkle, a trembling fizz. Not full-on bursts of bubbles, but gentle, flirtatious shivers.

Torre de Azevedo Vinho Verde (£7.99, Sainsbury)  is dry, crisp, tangy and slightly Torre de Azevedo Vinho Verdelemon-scented wth some back notes of tropical fruit, perhaps pineapple.

The  bubbles only lasted a few seconds in the glass –  and the glass only lasted  a few moments in the garden, before it was brought inside to partner a plate of  prawns fried in herby, garlic  butter.  With the wine’s lemon hints and gentle sparkles, it was a lovely lunch treat.

Tesco Vinho Verde is a pinch at £4.49 and when poured is an excited little mix of soda-like bubbles and lemony fragrance. Big gluggy gulps may seem a greedy indulgence, but it’s best to taste the freshness of this wine as soon as it is poured. A few minutes later the bubbles have gone, but the lemon tingles remain.

Adega de Monção, Vinho Verde, 2011 (£5.95 www.thewinesociety.com) is a blend of two grapes, alvarinho and trajadura, both adding body and a citrus tremble. Lemons prevail, but there is a hint of the tropical too.

Adega is produced by a co-operative from the vinho verde heartland in Monção, and the Wine Society has some  online offers on its co-operative wines until tomorrow, April 21.

Another  is a smoky, youthful, red berry-packed Poggio del Sasso Sangiovese di Toscana, 2011, £6.95. The grape masterminds the pricier Brunello di Montalcino wines.

Also in my glass this week … First, a simple, fruity red.  Cuvée Chasseur Red 2012 (£4.79, Waitrose) is a vin de France with no allusions of grandeur. It is a  blend of carignan, grenache and merlot, grown on old  vines  from poor, dry   soils. Doesn’t sound a great start in life  but for wines this can be perfect. Spiced red fruit and plump plumminess.

In the New World, New Zealand has made sauvignon blanc  its own. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t cast your eyes around elsewhere.  Zondernaam Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (£9.99,  Co-op) from Stellenbosch,   includes 5% barrel fermented semillon. It adds a  slightly fuller feel in the mouth than you would normally expect, a little nuttinness to boot, alongside herbs, grass and a green pepper bite.