I'm going to guess that anyone looking at this page knows Casal-Garcia, because it's the Budweiser of Vinho Verde (I mean that in the sense that it is ubiquitous in the market, not in terms of quality). I am partial to its producer, Sociedade Agrícola e Comercial da Quinta da Aveleda, SA, if only because they rank Simplicity as one of their core values (just behind Devotion--not sure what that denotes, but I'm good with it). Most of the time, I don't think about Vinho Verde at all. But lately, what with the temperatures in my part of the world hovering around 90º F, it's become something of a necessity: A light, refreshing white that doesn't clobber your poor heat-addled head with alcohol. Anyway, as enjoyable as Casal-Garcia is, there actually are other wines in the style worth seeking out. Thus:
Conde Villar Vinho Verde 2009: It's light, it's slightly crackling, in has some pear and citrus aromas and flavors, and a pleasing snap of acidity on the finish. It's made from a blend of 40% Loureiro, 30% Trajadura, and 30% Arinto. The high proportion of Loureiro is a signal of quality: This is the preferred grape for vinho verde, favored for its aromatics, and somewhat difficult to grow. It's produced by Quintas Das Arcas.
Encostas do Lima Vinho Verde 2009: Lima is one of the six official sub-appellations of Vinho Verde. I found this to be the most interesting of the Vinho Verde wines I've tasted over the summer. The lime aroma and flavor has a real presence, along with notes of more generic citrus character and a bit of white peach. This also has a pronounced mineral character, reminiscent of a good Muscadet. It's sorta like drinking a gin and tonic, except you can drink more of it because the alcohol content is around 10%. Encostas do Lima is imported by Fran Kysela.
Finally, a note about Broadbent Vinho Verde: Made from 50% Loureiro, this is very good quality wine, although it did not cause me to gush as effusively as Mr. Mackay. It is worth noting that Broadbent claims to be the only producer to ship the wine overseas refrigerated. Unlike some other producer/importers, Broadbent's wines are properly handled by our local distributor.
You would think that every self-respecting producer/importer would do its utmost to be sure its products are delivered to the consumer in the best possible shape, and would be very selective about the distributors who handle their products, but you would be wrong. It's kind of like Alan Greenspan being unable to imagine that corporations would ever be dishonest, because it would be bad for business. Hard though it may be to believe, there are wine distributors who don't handle their products properly, and who lie about it to their customers. (Well, they don't lie about everything: It's hard to claim you use air-conditioned delivery trucks when your customer is right there, unloading bottles that are still warm to the touch.) Barring some kind of horribly intrusive Big Gubmint Regulation, this is a problem that resists easy fixing: If a customer wants Wine A, and that wine is only available from Distributor X, there ain't much to be done about it, except push the reps to push the warehouse to get deliveries to the store as early in the day as possible, etc.