This summer I’m trying to help you out of your seasonal drinking ruts. Consider Portuguese whites, soave and, of course, chenin blanc from South Africa as tips worthy of investigation.
Today I turn my attention to Spain, and in particular towards Rueda and it’s mainstay variety, verdejo. Long a blending grape with little following outside its home, verdejo has begun to attract the attention of drinkers in the know as of late. It’s a fascinating grape that offers up nutty aromas – I find almond and coconut often – that are just mouthwatering, and a blend of fruits that tend to retain a suggestion of bitterness whether the flavours verge towards the peachy end of the spectrum or remain more apple and citrus flavoured.
Of course, as every grape gains a following, there will be examples coming from outside it’s home region. That it’s a blend of verdejo and sauvignon blanc, sauvignon blanc being one of the allowed varieties in white Rueda, along with viura, should not be surprising. And when I say white Rueda, I
might as well be saying Rueda, for although red varieties are allowed and planted in the region, it is almost solely dedicated to the production of white wine, and to the showcasing of verdejo in particular.
Among the pantheon of Spanish white varieties verdejo gets very little play. While white grenache, albariño and even viura have their adoring fans and propagators, verdejo tends to get little attention. That’s probably due to its workmanlike role in the wines of Rueda, which have improved tremendously over the last decade.
Modern winemaking has altered the profile of Rueda forever, and with that change we’ve come to appreciate verdejo for its relative richness, juicy acids, which might be a sign of blending in Rueda more than verdejo’s naturally tendency, and great freshness of fruit. With those changes, our buying habits should change as well, or at least our sampling habits.
Do yourself a favour and try some verdejo. You might just find that Rueda is right up your alley!