Spain’s most popular white grape is Verdejo, and it is native to the region of Rueda in Castilla y Leon. Characterized by elegant tropical fruit and fragrant citrus notes, these wines are aromatic and full-bodied with lively acidity. Rueda Verdejo pairs best with shellfish, salads, flavorful sauces and buttery dishes or even Asian food, but and are extremely enjoyable on their own. That’s right: interesting, unique whites as game for oysters as they are for Pad Thai or unwinding on the porch.
Winemaking in Rueda has been documented as early as the 10th century and it was the first D.O. (Designation of Origin) to be approved in Castilla y León, in 1980. Today, this appellation creates dynamic white wines from an ancient grape variety using state-of-the-art technology that underscores aroma & flavor. These are delightfully refreshing whites with acidity and crispness that appeal to the Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc fan looking for a new and interesting alternative.
Rueda sits at half a mile above sea level, where the climate is extreme and cruel with cold winters, late springs and blistering summers; and while harsh for humans, Verdejo thrives under these conditions, concentrating flavor. An ample 2,600 hours of sunshine, low rainfall and winds keep the vineyards dry, allowing for a practically organic viticulture. Roots are forced to dig deep through the sandy, stony soil for water and nutrients, giving the wines a slight minerality. Huge temperature swings between day and night help maintain the balance between sugar and acidity in the Verdejo grape.
Verdejo grapes are not grown extensively elsewhere, but its approachable and pleasing style has popularity has won adepts among the most discerning palates. Most wine from D.O. Rueda is made in temperature-controlled stainless steel vats, where it is stored before ever hitting the bottle. However, versatile Verdejo responds well to oak fermentation and aging, which adds extra dimension to the wine. The innovative spirit in D.O. Rueda has led winemakers to experiment with natural yeasts, cement egg-shaped fermenters and even the using the Verdejo grapes in the creation of sweet and sparkling wines.
Beyond its innovative spirit, the governing body, the ‘Consejo Regulador’ of D.O. Rueda enforces strict growing and winemaking regulations as well as quality guidelines that help maintain a standard of excellence synonymous with the Rueda label on every bottle.
Simply put, Rueda wines are all about quality, value and character.
Did You Know?
- There are 32,500 acres of vineyards in Rueda, of which 28,800 acres are Verdejo.
- The area has 69 wineries and is cultivated by over 1,500 growers.
- To be “Rueda Verdejo”, wines must contain at least 85 percent Verdejo.
- Verdejo is harvested at night to allow the grapes to cool from the scorching summer heat.
- Verdejo was almost wiped out by Phylloxera in the late 19th century, but it was revived in the 1970s.