Tour de Spain: Rueda
The journey to this post has been a mildly frustrating one. I've known that I wanted to write about Rueda next, but for the life of me I could not find a bottle in any of the wine stores near me. What the heck? I finally found a store that had one Rueda, so I purchased it, even though it wouldn't have been my first choice if there were other options. Several days later I had an evening that was calm enough for me to open the bottle and focus on taking tasting notes. Aaaand the wine was oxidized. Terribly so. It was brown with two overpowering notes: in-your-face almond and walnut skin. I didn't have the receipt to take it back to the store for an exchange and, feeling defeated, I did something that I only do in the most dire of circumstances; I paid for shipping. I ordered a different bottle of Rueda online, along with a few others so that I could justify paying the devil's fee. First world problems. Anyway, the wine is here, it's not oxidized, it's delicious, and I'm ready to introduce you to the fine region of Rueda!
Rueda is cozied up next to the River Duero and the region of Toro. It's one of the few white wine regions in Spain and the wines are primarily made with the Verdejo grape, which produces a high acid, light bodied, aromatic wine with citrus, melon, and floral notes. Grapes that are grown in sandy soils can also impart some nice mineral flavors as well. Some producers choose to create a slightly heavier version of Verdejo and use methods such as oak aging or skin contact to add some complexity and body to the wine. Believe it or not, the Verdejo grape easily succumbs to oxidation, so I really shouldn't have been that surprised by my flawed bottle.
The climate of Rueda is intense. It's located on a plateau about a half mile above sea level, so it is either HOT or COLD and receives lots of sunshine and little rain. Verdejo is able to thrive in this type of climate and the aromatics and acidity of the grape are retained thanks largely in part to the cool summer nights of the area. Fun fact: many wineries will harvest the grapes at night because the skins are firmer when the grapes are cool and therefore won't burst as easily during picking, which could otherwise lead to oxidation.
I selected the Garciarévalo Casamaro Verdejo 2016 and it was everything I had hoped it would be. It's a blend of 90% Verdejo and 10% Viura and the vineyards are composed of sandy soils, so there should be a mineral character to it! The wine was very aromatic, fresh, and lively with notes of grapefruit, lychee, apricot, pear, fennel, and white flowers. I got the same notes on the palate with a slight bitter edge that was surprisingly satisfying along with the anticipated mineral note that came through on the finish. The high acidity adds a great balance to the wine and makes it even more food-friendly. Verdejo really is a unique little grape I feel that its profile lies somewhere in the realm between a ripe, unoaked Chardonnay and a Gewürztraminer. It's quirky and totally delightful! Bonus points: the winery uses organic farming practices.
Garciarévalo Casamaro Verdejo 2016: $14. Thumbs up!
Now that I have your mouth watering, may you have better luck locating a Rueda than I had! And if your local stores don't carry wines from this region, I purchased my bottle here.