Jo, who runs Perfect Friday Wine, has recently expanded her predominantly French stock list to include some Spanish wines and I had the pleasure to open a bottle of her new Bodega Comenge Verdejo from the Rueda region of Spain, last night. (£10, delivered locally or from Maidenhead market on the first Saturday of the month).
Verdejo, for the uninitiated, is a white wine grape most associated with Rueda, where it is thought to have originated. Others believe it originated in North Africa and was originally planted in north-western Spain by the Moors as far back as the 11th century.
I had long assumed it was the same grape as the Portuguese Verdelho, often used to make Madiera, since there was a long tradition of oxidised (sherry like) styles of Verdejo, but these are not the same grape variety, and the modern styles of Verdejo are extremely fresh and fruity. Excellent examples can also develop a nutty quality as they age.
If you're a fan of Sauvignon Blanc, you should allow yourself to be tempted by this aromatic variety. There's the same high acidity and aromatic core of lemon zestiness, but none of the grassy, green tones that can make one tire of the UK's current favourite white. If you're already a fan of fashionable Spanish varietal Albariño, this grape can present some of the same minerality and zing, but usually at a fraction of the cost. It's delicious on it's own, or pairs well with goats cheese, Asian or spicy cuisine, and white or shell-fish. It might even stand up to something like a pesto pasta.
Our Bodega Comenge bottle was even more appealing than I'd expected. There's a good dose of lime flavour, enough to satisfy a Riesling fan, and bags of peachy, nectarine notes. I particularly enjoyed the silky smooth body which comes from this grape variety's high glycerol content. It's a great summer evening wine and I shall definitely be drinking it again.
For readers who don't live close enough to Jo's delivery zone, you'll find examples in most of the major supermarkets and even as the inflight white wine on BA. Beware, there are some inferior examples out there, and many are blended with cheaper grapes. To experience this grape at it's best, look for a 100% Verdejo from Rueda. The back label should clearly state Rueda Verdejo to guarantee at least 85% of the grape in any blend.
Do you enjoy Verdejo? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below. Recommend a good one for your fellow readers, or, post a pic on our Facebook page.