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Wine region in a nutshell: Rueda

Updated: Apr 20, 2023

In this blog series, we introduce you to the most beautiful regions in the wine world. This time Rueda. A large plateau with hot days and cool nights. And known for the many supermarket wines. Why is Rueda so immensely popular? You read it in this blog!

Typical vineyard in Rueda. Photo by D.O. Rueda

At high altitude

¡Nos vamos a España! To the province of Castilla y León to be precise. It is the largest independent region of Spain, with cities such as Valladolid and Salamanca. Not very well known at all. What the region is really known for are the many medieval towns and castles. And the meseta, or the Spanish high plains in the Massif Central. And on that meseta we find Rueda! Located at about 700 meters above sea level, but otherwise completely flat. A unique area, with sweltering summer days and winter nights below freezing. In addition, it rains little, but you often have fog. And that combination ensures crispy fresh wines.

Viva el Verdejo

Map of Rueda. Picture by Decanter

If you say Rueda, you say Verdejo. 88% of all harvest in the Rueda is Verdejo. And he does his name honor to! Verdejo is derived from verde, so green. It originally comes from North Africa, but since the 11th century Verdejo has been doing very well in Spain. The grapes are small with a rough skin. This makes it well protected against the extreme heat and cold. Verdejo gives fresh wine with aromas of tropical fruit, peach, apple and citrus.

In addition to Verdejo, some Viura and Sauvignon blanc are also growing, although they are strongly in the minority. There's even some Tempranillo and Garnacha red wine coming out of the cellars. But those bottles usually stay behind in Spain.

Het geheim van Rueda

The Verdejo grape. Picture by Plant Grape

How is it possible that a relatively small area is so immensely popular? The answer is to be innovative and produce a lot for a nice price! In the 1970s, the winegrowers in Rueda radically changed course. They moved away from the traditional demijohn fermentation method, which made the wine taste more like sherry. The Palomino grapes were harvested and replaced with Verdejo, which was aged in stainless steel. A hit! The Verdejo is doing very well, and produces a lot of wine. And by a lot, we mean a lot! In 2022, 110 million bottles came out of the Rueda.

And did you know that the Dutch are number 1 export country for Rueda wines? 34% of all harvest ends up on the Dutch shelves. We Dutch people do love a Verdejo

What you must have ever tasted... Rueda fermentado en barrica! So wood maturation. This used to be very unusual, and even a bit out of the question with Verdejo. But nowadays there are a lot of Verdejo wines on the market that have had (partly) wood aging. Still very affordable, but just a bit more complex. Due to this wood aging, and often also lie ripening, the Verdejo gets a somewhat deeper taste with aromas of vanilla and almond. Insanely delicious! For example, look for Mus Verdejo, and drink it with chicken or fish with creamy sauces.

In short...

Don't want to pay too much for a nice bottle of wine that many people like? Then choose Verdejo from the Rueda! Never a blunder. Ideal wine for in the sun on the terrace, as a weekday wine or with some wood aging a perfect combination with your food. And let's face it, we would like to remain No. 1 customer, don't we? ;)

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