The future success of the Spanish region Rueda lies in championing its key grape variety, Verdejo, according to Mario Muñoz, director of international promotion for Rueda's Consejo Regulador. Speaking to Imbibe at a recent tasting, he highlighted the diverse wine styles Verdejo is capable of generating.
‘Spain’s white wine is having a moment,’ said Muñoz. ‘Especially Rueda's Verdejo. The trend in the region is to produce higher quality wines with Verdejo grapes in a wide range of styles, such as long ageing on lees or maturation in different containers.’
Muñoz stressed the fact that the Verdejo grape is the region’s real USP – ‘almost 100% of all new plantings is Verdejo, not Sauvignon Blanc’ – and that the Consejo Regulador’s efforts are going towards championing it on the international market.
However, Muñoz admitted that while the Rueda region is well known by industry professionals, a large part of the market is only familiar with Albariño when it comes to Spanish whites. ‘Rueda is, and has been for a long time, the best-selling white on the national market, so we never felt the need to promote it to an international audience,’ said Muñoz. ‘On the contrary, the Albariño from Galicia started promoting itself much earlier than us, therefore it’s now better known by consumers.’
To overcome this issue, the Consejo Regulador is planning a range of activities to promote the region to UK wine professionals, including press trips to Rueda and seminars for sommeliers held in two different cities. In addition, a dedicated masterclass was held by Sarah Jane Evans MW at the Wines from Spain tasting last week.
Three Rueda Verdejos to try
Familia Martínez Bujanda, Finca Montepedroso Verdejo 2018
Go for the latest vintage and you’ll find a crisp, lean, focused nose followed by great concentration on the palate.
Give it five years (we've tried the 2014) and the aromatic palate develops a savoury, umami character and complex notes of marzipan and dried fruit, while retaining a refreshing, crisp, citric zing.
Mocén Verdejo Selección Especial 2018
There’s a lot going on on the nose here, with plenty of floral notes plus scents of freshly cut grass and lemon zest.
On the palate it overperforms, with good acidity, structure and lingering herbaceous finish. For the price, this is a no brainer.
£9, Spaniche Wines
Hijos de Alberto Gutiérrez De Alberto Dorado NV
Although the Dorado style survives thanks to only a handful of producers, it’s been made in the region for centuries. The newly made wine, which must be varietal Verdejo, is put in demijohns and ‘baked’ under the sun for one year, then transferred to a solera system to age oxidatively for the next two years.
This example is delicate and elegant yet complex, showing characteristic aromas of toasted nuts and rancio.
£19/50cl, not imported yet