London wine trade gets a taste of Rueda

On Tuesday this week, members of the drinks trade in London were introduced to the wide range of wines from Spain’s best-selling white-wine-producing region: Rueda.

Campo Eliseo Verdejo vines in Rueda (Photo credit: Campo Eliseo)

The event, which took place at Asia House in the heart of the capital, included youthful, aromatic whites made from Sauvignon Blanc and Verdejo, as well as richer, barrel-aged examples from the latter grape, which is native to the region.

Attendees were also treated to a Dorado at the end of the masterclass, which is a rare, historic, oxidative, dry fortified wine that was once widely-produced in Rueda, and is now making a come-back.

Also made using the Verdejo grape, Dorado tastes a little like a slightly fruitier dry oloroso-style Sherry, and wowed the London trade for its nutty complexity and freshness, along with its potential to match a wide range of dishes, particularly those with hard-to-match flavours, such as blue cheeses.

As the presenter of the masterclass, having recently visited Rueda, I gave an introduction to the region’s strengths, sharing my views on why I think this part of Spain is relevant for UK buyers, and their customers.

In particular, I selected three reasons why Rueda deserves to be more than a niche category in the UK, which is in sharp contrast to its position in its domestic market – as much as 40% of all white wine consumed in Spain hails from Rueda.

Firstly, due to strict quality control by the Rueda DO, coupled with the presence of all of Spain’s major wine companies in the region, whites from Rueda have a high base standard, and yet come with competitive prices.

Secondly, whether made with Sauvignon Blanc, but much more likely, Verdejo, the whites from Rueda are citrus-scented, gently bitter, bright wines, making them refreshing, and stylistically right on trend.

Thirdly, with the native grape of Verdejo accounting for more than 85% of the plantings in Rueda, this region represents something that is simple and authentic – a grape and place combination with at least half a century of history that’s easy for consumers to recall.

In essence, this area is Spain’s answer to Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, because Rueda represents a region and grape combination that’s memorable, refreshing, and identifiable.

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