Fans of refreshing white wines generally consider sauvignon blanc and pinot grigio to be the obvious choices. However, in the realm of thirst-quenching whites, there are a plethora of interesting varieties to discover. Enter verdejo, central Spain’s claim to zesty white-wine fame. This is what to know about the grape, plus five delicious bottles to try.
What Is Verdejo?
Verdejo is a green-skinned grape variety used to make light-bodied, easy-drinking white wines. Although the grape was historically used to produce more oxidative styles of wine in the past, the variety is almost exclusively used to craft fresh, youthful whites today.
Where Does Verdejo Come From?
Originally from northern Africa, verdejo made its way to southern—and, eventually, central—Spain, where it is almost exclusively cultivated (specifically in the Rueda appellation) today.
How Is Verdejo Made, and What Does It Taste Like?
Verdejo can be vinified in a variety of styles, though its most popular expressions are light-bodied and acid-forward, and loaded with fresh, fruit-driven flavors. Verdejo-based wines are generally consumed in their youth and make great alternatives to sauvignon blanc, albariño, pinot grigio, and other zesty white wine varieties.
Verdejo wines are mostly vinified varietally, although when they’re blended, common partners include viura (macabeo) or sauvignon blanc. Verdejo grapes are known for producing wines laden with flavors of lemon, lime leaf, stone fruit, grapefruit rind, peach skin, white flowers, fennel, and grass.
What Are Good Food Pairings with Verdejo?
Due to its fresh and light-bodied nature, Verdejo is a wine that can easily be sipped on its own without food. However, like most wines, it comes to life when served alongside ideal pairings, which include seafood, shellfish, green salads, and fresh cheeses.
These are five bottles to try.
Bodegas Miguel Arroyo Izquierdo Mus Lias
Now spearheaded by a fourth-generation winemaker, this eponymous family estate is known for producing terroir-reflective, traditional wines in the heart of Spain. Fermentations are carried out in a combination of clay amphorae, steel tanks, and wooden barrels, and a number of the family’s original vineyard sites are still tended today. This saline, fruit-driven wine shows flavors of stone fruit, lemon zest, and green herbs. This expression is definitely the most savory expression of verdejo of these five bottles, and screams to be paired with salty seafood or fresh cheese boards.
For an affordable, reliable, and easy-to-find expression of verdejo, check out Granza’s expression. Crafted entirely from organically farmed fruit, this zesty and textured wine ages sur-lie for three months in steel prior to bottling, which adds pleasant weight to the wine’s saline-tinged palate. Flavors of green apple skin, tropical citrus, pear, and herbal undertones lead to a delicious, palate-cleansing finish.
Gulp / Hablo
The only thing better than a standard-size bottle of verdejo? A liter-sized bottle, of course. Produced from various vineyard sites across Spain, Gulp/Hablo’s wines are bringing naturally produced, well-made juice to the masses. Expect flavors of passion fruit, orange blossom, and hints of crushed stones to ooze from this organic, native-yeast-fermented wine. (For a textured and grippy skin-contact version of the grape, dive into Gulp / Hablo’s orange wine, produced from a blend of verdejo and sauvignon blanc.)
Hermanos del Villar Oro de Castilla
For the most sauvignon blanc-reminiscent pick of the bunch, dive into this bottle. Fruit for this estate-grown wine comes from limestone and clay soils and is vinified entirely in steel, so as to preserve the wine’s natural freshness. Bright, floral-tinged flavors of stone fruit, grass, chalk, and lemon zest make the wine a perfect match for grilled chicken, green salads, and raw-bar favorites alike.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
Menade Rueda Organic
For an affordable and refreshing example of verdejo, look no further than Menade’s expression. Fruit for this wine comes from various parcels of 20-to-25-year-old vines rooted in pebbly clay soils, each of which is vinified separately. On the palate, the wine shows zesty, mineral-driven flavors of citrus and crushed rocks marked by a herbaceous, lemongrass-tinged finish.