Ask any wine enthusiast about verdejo and they will tell about a fresh, light fragrant libation, exuding surprising aromas of grass.
Modern verdejos are soft and refreshing. They are now starting to be recognised as fine dry wines with unique flavours.
Verdejo originates in North Africa, was brought to Spain by Mozarabs in the 11th century during their occupation of the country. It was planted as table grape since Arabs, being Muslims, are not supposed to partake of alcohol.
Verdejo was then used to make highly oxidized sherry-style wines, but it never captured the imagination of wine drinkers.
Marques De Riscal winery from Rioja was the first to make modern style verdejo wine, with teh help of late Emile Peynaud, from Bordeaux in late 1970’s.
By 1980, D.O. (Denominacion Origen) was granted, and quality improved from then on.
Rueda verdejo must contain a minimum of 85 per cent verdejo, and may contain sauvignon blanc or macabeo.
Nowadays, the first fruit is harvested at night and cold-pressed immediately (at 10 – 15 C) to prevent oxidation.
Day temperatures in Rueda during harvest time range from 28 – 30 C, which would render the fruit less suitable for making refreshing wines.
Verdejo is now planted in La Mancha, Valdepenas, Almansa, and Manchuela.
Modern verdejo wines made by young and ambitious winemakers smell of straws, fennel, white blossoms with a little grassy touch, and may have slightly bitter undertones.
Some wineries age their wines in stainless steel containers, others in 600 – 800 litre capacity oak barrels for a few months.
Jose Pariente, Telmo Rodriguez, Didier Belondrade, and Marques de Riscal are some of the best brands of Rueda verdejo.
|Writer – Hrayr Berberoglu – E-mail – Read his books?
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