Finding an affordable white wine without sacrificing quality can be a daunting task. While we often turn to commonly known varietals, sometimes by digging a little deeper you’ll strike gold. For delicious everyday whites that won’t break the bank, look no further than the Verdejo grape, specifically Verdejo wines from the Rueda region of Spain. Crisp, clean, and refreshing, these Rueda whites are killer with food, yet can equally stand alone as evening aperitifs. So what exactly do you need to know about Rueda Verdejo?
What is it?
Verdejo is a white grape varietal that has been prevalent in Spain, specifically in the Rueda region, for more than 1,000 years. The grape originated in Northern Africa and made its way to southern Spain, where it travelled north during the reign of King Alfonso VI in the 11th century. The Verdejo grapes produce soft, fruit-forward white wines with intense aromas. Despite their history in oxidized wine production, such as in strong, nutty wines like Sherry, present-day Rueda Verdejo wines have bright citrus and melon characteristics, with high well-balanced acidity and tons of freshness.
Where is it?
Rueda is located in the Castilla y Leon region in northern Spain. This high-plateau region enjoys a continental climate, with cold winters and hot summers. Small family farms have been practicing sustainable farming here for centuries, though Rueda officially became a Denominacion de Origen (DO) in 1980. The DO is the control body that enforces the regulations set to guarantee the origin, style and quality of its wines. Its guidelines stipulate that wines labeled “Rueda” must contain a minimum of 50% of Verdejo and wines labeled “Rueda Verdejo” must contain a minimum of 85% Verdejo, though generally, most are made entirely with the Verdejo variety. Today, there are over 1,500 growers and 62 wineries in Rueda producing Verdejo wines!
How is it Made?
Rocky soils, rich in limestone and iron, and optimal sunshine lead Verdejo vines to yield grapes capable of producing full bodied and highly aromatic white wines. Verdejo grapes in Rueda are harvested at night, when the cooler temperatures prevent oxidation and help retain the grapes’ acidity and freshness. Fermentation in stainless steel or concrete underscores the bright, fruit-forward characteristics in the wine.
When Should I Drink It?
Rueda Verdejo wines are perfect for everyday consumption, thanks to their fresh and fruity flavor profiles. The wines are delicious with an array of food, particularly shellfish, fresh cheeses, vegetables, spicy foods, and various salads. Rueda Verdejo is great without food too, whether it’s a hot summer day on the patio or a cold winter’s night by the fire. Versatility is a key strength of Rueda Verdejo wines.
Why Should I Drink It?
Verdejo is often left in the shadows of its better-known Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay cousins, yet it merits just as much attention and love. The versatility of the grape makes it a perfect wine to enjoy year-round and its affordability is key in making it your new everyday white wine choice. It’s no surprise that Rueda Verdejo is Spain’s most popular white wine.