World Verdejo Day

Friday, June 10, 2022

Normally when it is World (insert variety name here) Day it would appear under This Week’s Wine Review with a tasting of several wines of that variety BUT today is different as it is World Verdejo Day.

Que? I hear you say. No, not Verdelho (Portuguese), or Vermentino (Italian), or Verdicchio (Italian), or Verduzzo (Italian). It is Verdejo (Spanish) Day.

Verdejo comes from the Rueda region of Spain, a delightful area centred around the historic town of Valladolid, which has a still functional 2000-year-old Roman aqueduct. At 750 metres above sea level, the Rueda region has 70 or so wineries which produce almost exclusively white wine. Predominantly Verdejo (90%) with a smattering of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.

Verdejo is an exciting, native to Spain white wine that has been around for just over 1,000 years. They make five distinctive styles of varietal wine from it:

►A crisp, tight “Methode Traditionalle” sparkling wine.

►Fresh, crisp, young tank fermented (no oak style) and released within 12 months of vintage.

►Tank fermented, partially oak matured on lees – greater depth and complexity.

►Barrel fermented with great depth and complexity.

►Frizzante – a recent innovation. A light slightly sweet sparkling wine that is rivalling Prosecco in the bars of Spain.

In addition to these styles, some of the less traditional winemakers make an additional wine with which to stand out from the crowd, a Verdejo, with a splash of either Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay added.

A few years ago I had the joy and privilege of visiting Rueda, enjoying some of that famous Spanish hospitality, including, having lunch in an underground wine cellar/100 diner capacity restaurant thirty metres below ground, standing in a vineyard looking at Verdejo vines that were planted around the same time that Australia’s first vineyard was being planted at Camden NSW (1818-1820) and visiting an underground cellar/winery that was dug out in 1656 – i.e. older than “Australia”.

Although being an entrenched part of the “Old World” of wine the winemakers of Rueda are less hidebound and quite progressive, including a number of wineries bottling under screwcap.

Here in Australia there are currently eleven Verdejo producers. Trentham Estate (Murray Darling) were the first to release an Aussie Verdejo, followed by other forward thinking wineries including Bassham (Riverland), Dell’Uva (Barossa), Cirami Estate (Riverland), Peter Lehmann (Barossa) and Terra Ricca (Riverland).

Being from lower altitude and enjoying greater sunshine, Australian Verdejo isn’t quite as mineral or steely as those from Rueda. Rather they are a bit softer, rounder, more in the aperitif style than the wines of Rueda, which are suited to match all but the richest of meat dishes.

Verdejo is an amazingly consistent high quality white variety. It varies in style according to the winemaker, but each and every wine still has the same inherent primary characteristics of the variety. Unlike, so many other white varieties, such as Chardonnay, which can vary so much in flavour that the consumer never knows what they will be getting until they open the bottle and taste it.

So happy International Verdejo Day to you and hopefully in years to come you will be able to celebrate it with a glass (or 3) of this delightful and versatile Spanish emerging variety – either home grown or from Rueda España!! Ole, Ole!

This Week's Wine Review:

This week we are in the beautiful Clare Valley, home to some excellent wineries, from ultra-traditional like Wendouree Wines through to the avant garde emerging varieties advocate, Matriarch & Rogue Wines.

Closer to the traditional end of the spectrum are the superb wines from Kilikanoon Wines, located in the picturesque Skilly Valley. With a long history in the area and some vineyards going back into vinous “ancient” times, this is an outstanding winery.

Their KILIKANOON ATTUNGA 1865 CLARE VALLEY 2018 SHIRAZ is truly sensational. The Attunga Vineyard, located just north of Auburn was planted in 1865 and to this day still produces commercial quantities of small, intense, concentrated grapes. The cropping levels from this venerated vineyard are usually around one tonne to the acre, of small ubber concentrated grapes, depending on the season. Occasionally when there is an exceptional year, such as 2018, a varietal, single vineyard is produced.

The grapes are individually sorted so as to ensure that only the best are included in this unique super premium wine.

The wine is a big, deep, yet elegant wine. The colour is very deep, inky and almost black. At four-years-old the bouquet is just starting to show a hint of maturation characters, to go along with the lovely red and blackberry aromas coupled with a smidge of attractive green leafiness – quite appealing!

On the palate the wine is big, rich, beautifully rounded with layers of expressive flavours, superb balance and finishes with a tight, slightly grippy, lingering finish. Fabulous now, it will evolve into being sublime with a modicum more carefully cellaring.

This is a truly brilliant wine, and the rest of their range “ain’t none too dusty” either. Do yourself a favour and check them out – see link below.

Until next week, stay safe, be good and #chooseaustralianwine. Cheers, Dan T.

Winery Link: www.kilikanoon.com.au