Verdejo Blanco – Verdejo literally means [the] “Green Grape” or “Green Fruit” (one translation even suggests “Green Olive”, which most likely says something about how green the grapes can be) – is a variety thought to come from central north-western Spain.
Verdejo Blanco is a very interesting, and one of quite few varieties, that manages to retain high levels of acidity also when grown in a warm climate – something of a winemakers dream.
Yield quality is a bit sensitive to growth conditions, especially to the kind of soil. Verdejo Blanco is more likely to provide high quality grapes when grown on lean soil. Lean in this case means sand. There are reports of vineyards where the Verdejo Bianco vines grow on their own rootstocks, e.g. the vines have not been grafted to American rootstocks.
Aromas and flavours are of green apples, citrus, tropical fruit, gooseberries, and minerals, quite often accompanied by some nuttiness.
Verdejo Blanco grapes are produced in several styles. As a dry varietal, they most commonly prduce a very fresh wine with aromas of green apples, tropical fruit (peach, pineapple), gooseberries, minerals accompanied by some nuttiness. To the palate they have green apples, citrus, tropical fruit and minerals. If harvested too early, wines will easily pick up herbaceous notes.
Today, as is the case in many parts of the world, Rueda winemakers experiment with leaving the wine on the lees for several months, which adds depth and complexity to the wine’s inherent freshness.
Verdejo Blanco is also used for blending, mostly with Viura but also Sauvignon Blanc.
High acidity levels makes it ideal for also producing sparkling wine. The Rueda Espomoso is prepared with the traditional method.
It is also used to produce two kinds of fortified wine; Pálido (“Pale”), and Dorado (“Golden”).
Verdejo Blanco’s best expressions undoubtedly can be found among the wines from the Rueda DO. There are wine critics who view their dry varietal Verdejo Bianco wines among the best white wines for food pairing, competing with for example Albarinho wines.
A dry, fresh, varietal Verdejo Blanco wine is a perfect match with dishes made from or involving goat cheese. Thanks to the acidity levels, it is also a perfect match for both shellfish and fish based tapas. Or why not a dish based on for example white fish or salmon.
A dry varietal Verdejo Blanco wine is best served at 8-10°C/46-50°F.
Where is it grown?
According to the world-wide statistics, Verdejo Blanco is reported to be grown only in Spain. Here, on the other hand, it holds the position as the twelfth most planted grape in the country. In terms of its relative importance for the Spanish wine industry, it however faces strong competition, and its PTPA factor is a mere 1.6%.
Total planted area amounts to 16.578 ha/40,965 ac, a four folded development between the censuses of 2000 and 2010. This corresponds to an increase in acreage of 12.126 ha/29,963 ac.
In the Rueda DO, 9.277 ha/22,924 ac are reported from the Valladolid province, while 882 ha/2,179 ac are shared between the provinces of Ávila, and Segovia. The Rueda DO is situated in north-west, between Madrid and the central southern part of Galicia, Spain’s northern region.
Other provinces that holds Verdejo Blanco plantings of some size are Ciudad Real (2.557 ha/6,318 ac), Cuenca (1.106 ha/2,733 ac), Albacete (1.098 ha/2,713 ac), and Toledo (660 ha/1,631 ac). These are all situated in the central Castille-La Mancha region, south, east or south-east of Madrid.
Smaller plantings are reported from an additional twelve provinces in various parts of the country.
Verdejo Blanco is thought to be an old variety, e.g. with its roots dating back to the early parts of the Moor invasion of the Iberian Peninsula in the eight century. The story claims it was brought to Rueda by the Iberian Christians who lived under Moorish rule, the so called Mozarabs. They lived in Spain’s south, e.g. in what we today call Andalusia. This is an interesting hypothesis that however is a bit difficult to prove without written documentation.
An alternative story says that the variety originated in the area of Valladolid, e.g. where it today has its heartland.
It has been established that its parents are Savagnin Blanc (which has parts of its history in France) and Castellana Blanca, commonly known also as Albillo Real. Albillo Real is thought to have originated in Valladolid, which potentially could give support to the second of the stories.
Often mistaken for
It is different from the Portuguese variety Godello (probably better known as Verdelho), although the varieties share some genetic kinship. The Italian grape Verdello is a completely different variety.