Verdejo is the most well-known white grape in the DO Rueda, an appellation located between DO Toro and DO Ribera del Duero. Thanks to its presence in the production of great white wines here in the centre of the autonomous community of Castile and Leon, Verdejo has rapidly gained in prestige and is, for many, a synonym of top Spanish white wines.
Its name (verde means green in Spanish) comes from the greenish colour of the grapes and the elegant vegetal character of the best Verdejo wines. The Palomino grape was the star grape up to the 1970s in the area now classified as DO Rueda — a neutral grape used for producing fortified wines which were not particularly successful. However, wineries such as Marqués de Riscal saw the potential of Verdejo and started to use it to create splendid white wines.
The new style of Rueda wines — dry, aromatic, simple yet characterful wines — quickly took the place of fortified ones and soon won the praise of both the general public and wine critics. As Verdejo wines became more popular, more and more wineries started to use this variety.
Nowadays Rueda Verdejo wines are recognized around the world for their intense fruity character and lack of sweetness. The best ones are made from old vines — some of which are ungrafted pre-Phylloxera vines — which transmit an intense sensation of minerality and historic green hints reminiscent of grass and fennel. Verdejo wines are often compared to Sauvignon Blanc for their aromas of peach and lime and a good level of acidity. Verdejo is ideal for Crianza wines which age elegantly.