A Wine Lover’s Weekly Review Of $10 Wines – A Verdejo From Rueda, Spain

Today’s two wines are probably our first made from the Verdejo grape, a white originating in North Africa but a Spanish resident for centuries. Its heartland is Rueda about 170 kilometers (some 100 miles) northwest of Madrid. Until the 1970s these grapes were mostly transformed into Sherry-like highly oxidized wines. Not my style. But that was the past. To maintain freshness the grapes are harvested at night when it gets fairly cool so the wine maintains its freshness. Trivia time: The grapevines are often close to the ground because of the high winds. Richard Sanz and siblings, the sixth generation in a winemaking family, founded this winery in 2005. Their vineyards stretch for about 60 hectares (some 150 acres). The website says all their wines are certified organic but neither the label nor the supplier gave any such indication. The companion wine is another Rueda Verdejo costing a few dollars more.

OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY All wines that we taste and review are purchased at the full retail price.

Wine Reviewed Bodegas Menade Verdejo 2010, 12.5% alcohol Rueda Denominacion de Origen about $8. (That’s the web price, I paid almost double.)

Let’s start by quoting the marketing materials. “Description: The history of wine is full of intriguing stories. One such is Verdejo. Over the centuries, it had become the signature white grape of Rueda. At one point during the Franco years (1936-1975), Rueda growers were forced to remove their Verdejo and replace it with more commercially viable Chardonnay. One grower refused. Angel Rodriguez’s vines were, in some cases, over 200 years old, so, at the risk of his life, he said no. Because of his insubordination we have Verdejo in Rueda today. All other cuttings of the vine in Rueda, and the rest of the world, come from his holdings. This lively, floral, fresh and fruity version from Sitios de Bodega is a fine example. Enjoy with mildly spiced seafood dishes.” And now for my review.

At the first sips I felt this wine was semi-ethereal. I appreciated its light sweetness and its acidity. The initial meal featured a store-bought barbecued chicken. This Spaniard presented me with refreshing acidity. It was somewhat floral and quite long. When paired with a medley of zucchini and Portabello mushrooms the libation was very long, providing a fine combo of acidity and sweetness. Fresh pineapple for dessert stepped up the drink’s acidity and whisked away the sweetness, leaving light caramel in its place.

The next meal’s centerpiece was a delicious roasted salmon filet that had been marinated in sesame seeds and Agave sauce. The Verdejo responded with pleasant sweet citrus. It was nutty and presented very refreshing acidity. The side dish of okra, garlic, onions, and crushed tomatoes over quinoa sharpened its acidity and brought out the taste of tangerines and caramel. Dessert was Haagen-Dazs pralines and cream ice cream. The wine retained its acidity but its fruit was lost.

I began my final meal with very disappointing Oriental rice crackers. No Wasabi, no taste. But this Spanish V provided forceful acidity and citrus, along with pleasant sweetness. Then came green beans with crushed tomatoes. The wine responded with crisp acidity. It was floral and I got sweetness. The other dish was a tasty medley of broccoli, Portabello mushrooms, onions, and crushed tomatoes. In response this libation offered lots of acidity and fine length. It was smoky but metallic. Fresh strawberries rendered our liquid friend light but balanced. Fresh raspberries perked it up somewhat.

Final verdict. I really liked this wine. I strongly suggest that you buy it in quantity if you can find it at $8. But if you, like me, have to pay $15, it goes towards the bottom of the buy list.

Levi Reiss authored or co-authored ten computer and Internet books, but prefers drinking fine wine. He teaches computers at an Ontario French-language community college. His global wine website www.theworldwidewine.com features a weekly review of $10 wines and a whole lot more. Visit his Italian travel website www.travelitalytravel.com.

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