Posted on 22.05.20 Wine of the Week

#WOTW: Viva Verdejo’s vibrant bitter citrus twist

This week’s choice is a grape that’s developing a real following late in its life. Dating back to the 11th century, Verdejo was once the wine of Spain’s Royal Court, although it would have tasted very different back then. It had a near-death experience, falling out of fashion after the region was ravaged by phylloxera, but thankfully it has bounced back.

Indigenous to the Rueda region, where it reigns on the plains, Verdejo is remarkable for its freshness. That’s thanks to the altitude – around 800 metres – which ensures the grapes benefit from hot sunny days and cool nights. When it won Royal patronage, it had a sherry-like character (the only way of preserving it for the long journey to Madrid), but these days it has a lovely vibrancy.

Ramon Bilbao Rueda Verdejo 2018 (Great Western Wine, £11.95 or £10.75 if you buy 12 wines) comes from a celebrated Rioja producer (more here) that has invested heavily in the region. It offers bright lime zest, peach and ripe conference pear, with a sophisticated, gently savoury texture. Best of all, there’s Verdejo’s trademark bitter twist, which reminds me of Schweppes Bitter Lemon.

Vegan-friendly, it’s a lovely wine for summer glugging on its own, but it’s also a versatile option for food pairing and would be just perfect with pan-con-tomate, or a selection of tapas.

(You can read more about a trip to Rueda, where I discovered Verdejo, here)

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