Revisiting Rueda

Revisiting Rueda

It’s been a hectic few weeks here at Simply Spanish Wine. So much so, that we’ve actually forgotten to tell you about another brilliant new wine that we’ve just added to our, ever expanding, list. Basa is a fresh and expressive white wine from DO Rueda made from….you guessed it, the Verdejo grape (with a dash of Viura).

The man behind the wine, Telmo Rodríguez, is one of Spain’s most celebrated, and diverse, contemporary winemakers. Born into the world of wine - his family own and run the Remelluri winery in Rioja Alavesa – he learnt his craft in the family vineyards, supplemented with more formal training in Bordeaux and various French chateaux. In 1994, he teamed up with his now business partner, Pablo Eguzkiza, a man who also learnt much of his craft in France with Claude Berrouet, the man behind the internationally famous wines of Petrus.

The pair made their first wine, Alma, in Navarra. It was a Garnacha – an innovation at a time when the norm was for wines made with more international varieties like Cabernet or Merlot. From there, they crossed Spain to work in Arribes del Duero with the native grape Juan García, before setting their sights on Rueda in 1996.

From the outset, the aim was to make a quality white wine from native Verdejo vines grown in the chalky, stony soils of the DO. This may sound easy enough given the boom Spanish white wines have gone through in recent years, but in the mid-nineties Spain was known primarily as a country of reds, and there were very few quality white wines being made.

Rueda is an historic wine region with winemaking traditions that stretch back to the Middle Ages. It is famed for the Verdejo grape and its fresh, approachable, unoaked dry white wines which are very easy to drink. Centred around the town of Rueda in Castilla y León, about 170km north-west of Madrid, the denominación spans the provinces of Valladolid, Segovia and Avila and sits in the depression formed by the Duero river valley in the middle of the Meseta Central (Spain’s central plain).

With 20,000 hectares of vineyard, Rueda is one of Spain’s larger DOs with around 75 registered wineries. Far from the coast and at an altitude of 600-780 metres above sea level, winters here are cold and long, late frosts are frequent, and summers are hot and dry. But the variation between day and night-time temperatures is a positive factor, as the heat helps the sugars develop in the Verdejo grapes while cooler temperatures at night help to lock in acidity.

In terms of profile, Verdejo wines made with Verdejo tend to have lots of primary fruit aromas like apple, fresh lime and maybe even a touch of peach or melon, coupled with aromas of fresh grass and perhaps a dash of fennel. Viura (aka Macabeo) is often found in white blends, and adds aromas of white fruit, coupled with floral and aniseed notes.

Being a blend of the two, Basa offers the best of both worlds. It's got lovely aromas of ripe yellow fruit, with a touch of herbs and a little bit of spice. The palate is medium-bodied, ripe and fresh with moderate alcohol. Renowned wine critic, Luis Gutierrez described it as "tasty and balanced" awarding it 90 points out of 100. And he should know - he's the chief taster in Spain for US wine critic Robert Parker, the go-to resource for wine ratings worldwide.

You might think that a wine with such a pedigree is out of reach of us mere mortals. But the great thing about Basa is that it comes in at the exceptionally reasonable price of just €8.90 - an absolute bargain for a wine with this background. So, why not snap up a few bottles while stocks last. You won't regret it.

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