Verdejo is the signature white grape variety from Spain. Although the Iberian country is known for its sizzling red varieties, Verdejo deserves its own slot.
The grape is an old variety with unknown origins and is planted the most in the Rueda region of central Spain.
The grape is such that it holds great regard among all the white varieties of Spain and is used as a very common blending agent with a lot of others like Viura and Sauvignon Blanc.
Verdejo, at its optimal peak, produces some of the best and finely made white wines in the Iberian country.
Its dominant/characteristic notes include flavours of nuts, soft creams mixed with some honey, making it indeed the finest white of Spain.
Origins of Verdejo
The exact origins of Verdejo remain obscure; however, some indications might suggest its true story. The grape is definitely of an old antiquity, with its beginnings going back more than a thousand years at least.
Its exact place of birth hasn’t been discovered, but experts suggest its most likely place of origin to be North Africa, somewhere in modern day Morocco.
It was brought to Rueda wither by the Mozarabs or by the Moors themselves. Since the latter were Sunni, it could be suggested that Verdejo is the contribution of the Mozarabs, who were Christian and some migrated here at Rueda centuries ago.
The Reconquista too might have played some of its part, as the whole of Iberia got under Christian rule once and for all.
Verdejo was generally used to make sherry-like wines, but started witnessing changes to its blending techniques.
More and more varietal wines started getting attention. In the 1970s, a winemaking company Marques de Riscal began to develop fresher white wines made of Verdejo with the help of a French oenologist Emile Peynaud.
These were the same people who revamped Verdejo’s presence, after been almost forgotten for centuries. In 1980, white wines made of Verdejo were given the recognition as a DOC of Rueda region.
Verdejo today remains an exclusively Rueda produced grape, hardly existing even outside this Spanish region and rapidly gained attention from the wine community in these last three decades, ever since its recognition in 1980.
Some plantations have been reported in the US and Australia, but 99.9% of it comes exclusively from Spain alone.
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Verdejo’s preferred soil type is the typical dry, sandy soil characteristic of Spanish plateaus. The soil here is of poor quality with little to no fertility, thus providing the grape with its natural habitat.
Being a grape of the hot climate and dry soil, the grape fares very well in regions with similar environments, and is resistant to certain drought conditions, but can develop some forms of bacterial and fungal infections if exposed to such conditions.
When fully ripened, Verdejo gives off some of the finest structures of the white Spanish varieties.
With nutty flavours, smooth feel and a dominant hint of honey served with almonds, Verdejo definitely makes up the spot for one of the best white varieties in Spain that grows today.
Alcoholically medium with very light acids, Verdejo wines make up for the perfect match with desserts and common traditional Spanish foods. Since its recognition in the 1980s, Verdejo’s production has only increased and got better over time, thanks to efforts by all the winemakers here with their latest technologies and techniques.
Right time harvesting, cool fermentation and gas blanketing have led to even more delicate and youthful aromatic notes and freshness preserved even in the most aged wines.
Verdejo’s natural quality of slow aging has therefore provided people with almost 130 years of fully developed wines, still intact in bottles.
Verdejo’s flavours and light structure, makes it a natural blending agent of the Sauvignon Blanc variety, where some of its finest wines like the Rueda Superior, contain at least 85% Verdejo and the rest Sauvignon Blanc.
Verdejo’s sweet-nutty flavours are a delight hen served with mildly spicy items or even mild sweet desserts.
A serving of red peppers, stuffed with goat cheese, or a baked potato dressed with some apple vinegar served with some mustard go very well with the honey like touch Verdejo provides.
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