Enter A Summertime State of Mind When You Sip On Verdejo
This just in: In case you haven’t noticed, sadly, summer is in the rear view. The days are getting noticeably shorter. The nights are getting noticeably chillier. And at the local wine shop and restaurants all around town, hands are now reaching for bottles and glasses of red to replace the whites and roses that have been the staple since April. But wait, all is not lost. How about a pleasant compromise. How about a varietal that possesses the lighthearted sunniness of summer, and yet, also, simultaneously, the crispness of fall? Wouldn’t that be a truly delightful way to ease into the month of pumpkin and the onset of the year’s end? Well, I know just the thing. Can you keep a secret? Can you change colors, and reach for the gold, just like the hue of the leaves that are now starting to fall? And no, I’m not talking about buttery, or overly oaked Char, or cut grass meets cat piss Marlbourough Sauv Blanc. I’m not even speaking of brassy Pinot Grigio, or gulp, green apple-y Gruner. But what I am getting to is this…hang on. Wait for it. Get your wine key ready…Verdejo. Yes, Spain’s answer to the inquisition. No. just kidding on that one. But seriously, Verdejo should be in the running as an alternative to the big reds that get drunk in the fall. At least it has to be in the conversation. Even just saying it makes you feel like you are jumping into a pile of the aforementioned freshly fallen leaves. Here, let’s all say it together: Ver-dej-o. Now, don’t you feel better? And we haven’t even tasted it yet.
Having originated in North Africa, Verdejo, is a grape varietal long associated with Spain. To be specific, the Rueda region, which is located northeast of Madrid. They have long been known to produce white wines using Verdejo as the main component. According to the Denominacion de Origen (DO), which is the controlling body that enforces the regulations set to ensure the origin, style, and quality of its wines, the guidelines stipulate that for a wine to officially be called a “Rueda,” it must contain a minimum of 50% Verdejo grapes. Wines labeled “Rueda Verdejo” must contain a minimum of 85% Verdejo, though usually, most wines from there are comprised with 100% of the varietal. Today, there are over 1,500 growers and 62 wineries in Rueda producing wines made from Verdejo. And those numbers are nothing to Verdeeze at. All those winemakers surely have an inkling that they must be onto something. Refreshing that is.
Rueda’s rocky soils are rich in limestone and iron. When you combine those two elements along with all that Spanish sunshine, what you end up with are very flavorful and full white wines. Wines rich in citrus notes, and abundant with hints of honeysuckle and even dried eucalyptus. One interesting fact to be aware of is that Verdejo grapes in Rueda are harvested at night; a time when the cooler temperatures will prevent oxidation from occurring, a step which helps the grapes retain their natural acidity and freshness. Once the fermentation process happens (usually in stainless steel or concrete), this then underscores the brightness, and fruit-forward characteristics in the wine.
Based on the above profile, I’m sure that it comes as no surprise that Verdejo will pair well with just about any and all of the usual suspects that you’d think tend to go with a bright, full-bodied, dry white wine—that, of course, being shellfish, (I can practically see the dozen oysters I’m going to order to accompany my next glass of Rueda!), but also, poultry, charcuterie, cheese, salads, and what else, but another classic export from Spain, paella.
So, the next time you are at your local wine shop and are about to grab a bottle of a Bordeaux, or some other big red, or perhaps are at one of your favorite restaurants perusing the list, look for a Verdejo from Rueda, and you will walk (or stumble) home a happy camper, still glad that while summer might be over, in a way, you can still revisit it in your glass. Kind of like having a never ending Indian Summer all year round.
Wine To Try:
Cyatho Verdejo 2014, $11
Article originally appeared on GrapeCollective.com, find it here.