Probably one of the best values for a great white warm weather wine is one of Spain’s often ignored wines: Verdejo. At its best, Verdejo combines richness, freshness and lovely acidity while delivering almond-scented wines that offer a fine blend of near tropical orchard fruits with a fresh zesty edge.
This is the type of crisp, juicy white one often craves, not only in summer but year-round, for its body and rich flavor. Verdejo makes an unbelievably terrific food wine. It has citrusy notes that are very similar to Sauvignon Blanc, which allows it to pair particularly well with salads and grilled foods. It’s a must try for Sauvignon Blanc fans looking for something new.
One thing to note is that Verdejo can vary in style depending on designation. If it is simply labeled “Rueda” it must contain 50 percent Verdejo, and it is typically blended with Sauvignon Blanc or Macabeo, giving it a slightly lighter body and more refreshing characteristics. It is fresh, smooth and floral, with a minimum alcohol content of 11 percent.
If the wine is labeled “Rueda Verdejo” it must contain a minimum of 85 percent Verdejo, but it’s usually 100 percent Verdejo. These wines offer great aromatics and elegant fruity aromas with hints of anisette and fennel. The primary characteristics are fruitiness with a bitter touch. These are dry wines with a minimum alcohol content of 11.5 percent.
Both the Rueda and Rueda Verdejo styles have a soft waxy texture on the palate and often lean toward being fuller-bodied. Your food menu choices should determine which style you choose. One simple method is to pair Rueda wines much in the same way as a Sauvignon Blanc. These wines are excellent with sharply defined ingredients like arugula, vinaigrette, tomatoes and olives, they blend the flavors beautifully. It's juicy acidity makes it a natural for fish and shellfish. and as unbelievable as it may seem, that same juiciness is what makes Rueda wines perfect with hot and spicy dishes.
Here are two to try that you and your guests are sure to enjoy:
Bodegas Protos Rueda 2009 is made from 100% Verdejo. Fresh and appealing, the wine is fragrant with tart, lemony, green apples, touches of fennel and fresh cut grass aromas. There is a distinctly mineral quality on the tongue followed by a pleasant lemon-lime underlay that provide a slightly bitter almond aftertaste. Dry and lively acidity gives added freshness to this full-bodied and well-structured white. Serve with grilled shrimp, fried haddock, fried chicken.
Bodegas Y Vinedos Shaya Verdejo Shaya 2011. Named for Shaya deer that are native to the vineyards in Rueda, Spain, this value-priced Rueda has the typical tropical touches of pineapple and slightly green aromas. Exotic aromas of mango, melon and gooseberry seem to be touched with a “grapefruit zest” and are followed by riper, aromas of baking spices, spring flowers, peach and minerals. The flavors tease the taste-buds first with grapefruit, a touch of peach, some tropical fruit followed by spice flavors with a bit of stony minerality. There is a creaminess to the texture, vibrant acidity, and intense flavors that lead to a lengthy, fruit-filled finish and slightly bitter finish.