At its heart, Rueda and it’s signature grape, Verdejo, is all about agriculture. Grapes are harvested using modern techniques as well as by hand depending on the slope of the vineyards, and all grapes are harvested at night because of the hot temperatures. World-class winemakers moved here to make the world’s next great white wine featuring a grape with tremendous potential. Rueda is one of Spain’s best-kept secrets – but not for long. Similar to the world’s finest white wines that are produced in places like the Loire, Sancerre, Chablis and Bordeaux – a well-constructed Verdejo from Rueda is on track to be mentioned in the same breath as those heralded regions.
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.
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.
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.