Castilla y Leòn, and perhaps more precisely the hinterland surrounding the town of RUEDA, is home to one of Spain’s most successful native grape phenomena, the white variety known as VERDEJO.
Located directly south of Valladolid is where you’ll find the town of Rueda. For years it’s safe to say this areas viticultural prowess was overlooked, with more attention paid to the neighbouring ‘NATIVE RED’ hot spots TORO and RIBERA del DUERO.
Historically Rueda had a name for fortified winemaking. Yes, Palomino found its way up here from southern Spain. But with national and international tastes and preferences changing fast, producers in Rueda found themselves turning to one of their own for salvation.
And in VERDEJO they have most surely found it. The granting of DO status in 1980 was significant to get the wheels rolling. How poetic and apt it is that translated into English RUEDA means ‘WHEEL’.
With the influential Duero River running close by, the history books tell us VERDEJO has been grown in these parts since the 11th century. And no doubt even before that. Indeed it’s a grape that’s got the local Rueda DNA imprinted all over its spherical blue/green bloomed thin skins. And when we consider regional vineyard altitudes at +700 mts above sea level, clearly they’ve got themselves a pretty unique kind of climate too. Continental and Mediterranean. Not to mention the poor, gravel and stoney soils, to which the VERDEJO vines take like a charm. And man do these grapes deliver some charm.
°EYE: A pure straw colour with a light green seam passing through.
°NOSE: Youthful, floral and fruit filled. Apple, pear, a little peach and then a richer texture like butter glazed apple. Yeah, it’s creamy and buttery with yellow summer flowers followed by a subtle hint of tropical fruit climes too with pine-apple. All adds up to perty nose.
°PALATE: It’s dry and fresh with the fruit charge commanded by ripe pear backed up by a really appealing minerality, that’s persistent with it. This is a very tasty young wine indeed. Yeah, for a 2015, this fruit-led mineral-backed VERDEJO has body, balance and persistence. It’s got a captivating quality that sings of more.
°EYE: EL GORDO conjures up a colour of rich straw with a delicate seam of GOLD. Good legs too.
°NOSE: It’s intensely floral with yellow summer flowers and lush ripe fruit. Pear and apple for sure. Something aromatic in here too. Is that a touch bay leaf? Coupled with a whiff of crushed riverbed stones. Primary’s & secondary’s to the fore with an engaging creaminess, EL GORDO is still hedging on the youthful side. Love-ly.
°PALATE: Dry, medium acidity and here we go, a pronounced stoney mineral bite whose palpable gravelly edge buzzes off the palate, more than the acid does. Nifty style effect that works with the creamy consistency and soft, pleasurable fruit. EL GORDO ’14 offers a hint of maturity making for a big, personable VERDEJO with a natural, balanced, full-bodied feel.
Amazing to think how it acquired this rap, especially following our first encounter with its wonderful personality. Thankfully today in the creative enological hands of Spain’s finest winemakers, there’s no doubting VERDEJO’s potential as a contender for mono-varietal stardom.
Quality vineyard management, the use of indigenous yeasts and state-of-the-art vinification techniques are drawing out this variety’s real character, uniquely and identifiably so. Indeed many makers have found a period of lees contact paves the way to enhanced texture and flavour, creating lush, creamy white wines of exceptional body and balance. For sure these are two VERDEJO’s that we find surprisingly BIG for their age. And even though we’re talking about two different vintages, two different cellars and two different sites, for us the identifiable behaviour of VERDEJO and the consistency of style really makes this a grape to watch.
Rueda, La Seca and Serrada are three of DO Rueda’s top VERDEJO cru. With 95% of the regions wines being WHITE, we’re sure there’s gotta be other CRU too. Admittedly our geographical knowledge of the area is only skin deep. But we plan on getting to the heart of DO RUEDA very soon.
Taking a leaf out of Mr. Faker’s song book…
we’ll say it now…
we’re feelin’ love…
it’s made of GOLD…and it’s called VERDEJO.
Time to get your roller skates on, people!
Catch you on the ROAD to RUEDA ;)