Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Meet Verdejo - The Dancer

Meet Verdejo – The Dancer
I’ve met Verdejo on several occasions in the past – surely several times while studying for my Diploma of Wine and Spirit and we carried Valdelapinta Verdejo 2009 (imported by Parador Imports) at wineLIFE among our summer 2010 selection of wines. Last week at Great Match 2011, Wines from Spain’s annual wine and food tasting event, I had a chance to rub elbows with him and really get to know him better. And you know what? He’s a unique variety that deserves his own week to be featured!

Drinking Verdejo is like watching a ballet. Verdejo is that dude in tights, but don’t mistake his wardrobe for weakness. He is strong and lean and graceful, and all the ballerinas want to run across the stage and leap into his arms. The tights let you see his taut muscle tone. He lifts the ballerina in the air as though she were light as a feather. They move in unison. His moves are masculine and precise. Many times it seems she will just wither into his arms and he would catch her, hold her, balance her, look into her eyes… Ah Verdejo!

Rueda is Spain’s most respected white wine region, and Verdejo is the noble grape on which the best wines are based. Traditionally, as in many old world wine regions, Verdejo was the star in a duet (blend) with Palomino, but nowadays, the variety does solos regularly. It is not a difficult grape to grow, and as soon as Spanish winemakers made the discovery that with temperature controlled fermentations in stainless steel with no aging Verdejo could be a star, he took center stage!
Flavor Profile and Food Partners
Verdejo is for lovers of unique food combinations short of pregnancy cravings. With all that lovely crisp acidity, pink grapefruit and rosemary character, they tend to have an underlying nuttiness – that is it’s signature.

This past Sunday night I broke down a whole chicken and curried it with carrots, onions, garlic and flour dumplings and it was fantastic (just ask my three year old daughter, who was not just licking her fingers, but her whole hand!). It had just enough sizzle on the back palate to clear up congestion without making you lunge for a piece of bread – water only makes a burning palate burn hotter, in case you didn’t know. And the flavors were rich! I was generous with cumin and clove, salt and plenty pepper. All I could think about was my new friend Verdejo who I didn’t even have the decency to invite over for dinner! If I had, he and my curry would have become the closest of friends. His racy acidity and vivacious fruit character would have been the perfect counter point for the richly savory, sufficiently spicy curry in my pot. I had a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc instead, and that was just as lovely as I had hoped.

Your Homework
Your homework for this week and weekend is to try 2 Verdejos. Ask your favorite retailer or browse your favorite wine website for Rueda. Pay close attention to the varietal makeup. You should try one that is 100% Verdejo and another that is at least 60% Verdejo blended with other varieties. Do Tweet your notes to @wineLIFE_ and @wines_fromspain #VerdejoHW. Tell us which one was your favorite (please include the wine’s name, vintage and region), how much you paid for it and its best qualities. You can also post notes on the wineLIFE Facebook wall. Viva España!

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