Today I turn my attention to Spain, and in particular towards Rueda and it's mainstay variety: Verdejo. Long a blending grape with little following out side of its home, Verdejo has begun to attract the attention of drinkers in the know as of late. It's a fascinating grape that offers up nutty aromas, I find almond and coconut often, that are just mouthwatering, and a blend of fruits that tend to retain a suggestion of bitterness whether the flavors verge towards the peachy end of the spectrum of remain more apple and citrus flavored.Of course as every grape gains a following there will be examples coming from outside it's home region, and one has been included in this little tasting. That it's a blend of Verdejo and Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc being one of the allowed varieties in white Rueda, along with Viura, should not ne surprising. And when I say white Rueda I might as well be saying Rueda, for although red varieties are allowed and planted int he region it is almost solely dedicated tot he production of white wine, and to the showcasing of Verdejo in particular.
Among the pantheon of Spanish white varieties Verdejo gets very little play. While white Grenache, Albarino, and even Viura have their adoring fans, and propagators, Verdejo tends to get little attention. That's probably due to it workmanlike role in the wines of Rueda, which have improved tremendously over the last decade. I.e., were not that great nor terribly worthy of great attention previously.
Time have changed. Modern winemaking has altered the profile of Rueda forever and with that change we've come to appreciate Verdejo for its relative richness, juicy acids, which might be a sign of blending in Rueda more than Verdejo's naturally tendency, and great freshness of fruit. With those changes our buying habits should change as well, or at least our sampling habits. The 2013 Oro de Castilla Verdejo its really a knockout of a wine and one that I will be drinking and sharing this summer. Do yourself a favor and try some Verdejo. You might just find that Rueda is right up your alley!
2013 Oro de Castilla Verdejo Rueda 12.5% $15
Super fresh and fruity on the nose with a real big hit of fresh almonds early on followed by peach, quince jelly and citrus marmalade aromas. This enters the mouth with a laser of acid that strings tyne whole palate out like laundry on a line. Flapping in the wind are the aforementioned almond notes, juicy lime drenched peach and bitter apple flavors. Medium bodied and gaining weight towards the back end, this is rich, fresh and juicy with a long peachy finish and remarkable persistence. Totally up my alley, this is a terrific wine for summer. 91pts
2013 Bokisch Verdejo Lodi California 13% $18
Nutty and very almondy on the nose with underlying dusty, sandy, earthy mineral notes. Crisp, edgy and bright in the mouth, this has a lovely slightly creamy mid palate rich with gentle,elegant pithy fruit and with a light nutty note. The brisk fine acid adds a fine hint of tension to the palate and the long finish which shows a hint of little white cherry fruit. Very mineral, slightly steely and decidedly transparent, 89pts
2012 TrasCampanas Rueda 'Bodega Gotica" 13% $15
Rather faint on the nose with peach skin and lime pith aromas. On entry this shows fine acids, which do carry the wine across the palate with faint canned peach and lime flavors. . Air helps the peach flavors emerge, thigh they stay in the canned peach end of the spectrum, particularly on the modest finish. Texturally the wine is very appealing, linear, clean and fresh and in all truth this does improve greatly in the glass, though it remains a rather subdued and subtle, if complex example of the type. The finish in particular improves showing lingering note of lemon pith, mineral water and almost and orange candy sweetness. 87pts
2012 Martinsancho Rueda Verdejo 13%
Almondy and a bit spicy with a hint of white pepper on the nose followed by mineral, citrus pith, and coconut nuance. Broad and relaxed in the mouth even though this has a fine acid spine and minerality that really pops not he backend. The fruit flows across the palate with a hint of apple skin bitterness laying under melon fruit with a suggestion of spice on the modest finish. Pleasant but it seems as though this could offer a bit more in terms of focus and depth. 86pts
2012 TrasCampanas Verdejo 'Bodega Gotica" 13% $15
Nutty and fairly deep on the nice with the sweetness of raw nut meats accented with hints of waxy fruits, dried citrus fruits and coconut. Surprising light on the palate after such an array of rather rich aromas on the nose. This is focused and acid driven with lots of nutty and coconut nuanced slightly tropical fruit flavors on the palate. Like putting in all the tropical Lifesaver flavors in your mouth at once. Like the Rueda from TrasCampanas this gains more nuance and complexity with some air, gaining a little banana skin bitterness to contrast with thh fruit and the acid does firm up the backend nicely but this lacks the nuance and length of that wine. 86pts
2013 Altozano Finca Constancia Verdejo & Sauvignon Blanc Tierra de Castilla 13% $10
70% Verdejo, 30% Sauvignon Blanc
A bit candied on the nose which shows lots of lime like citrus character along with hints of banana and mint. Good acid refreshes the palate here and helps support the somewhat lean citrus flavors on the palate. Fading away on the backend this is clean, crisp and fresh, but lacks complexity or much of a finish. An easy drinking party wine. 83pts