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The Verdejo Grape

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About Verdejo

(Synonyms: Planta Fina, Verdeja)


Verdejo grapes Map showing the Rueda region of Spain

Verdejo is a white-wine grape originating in the Rueda region of Spain, though possibly brought there from North Africa in the 11th century. It was long used for making sherry-like oxidized wines; it was only as recently as about 40 years ago that white table wines of Verdejo began to emerge. It is today used in blends, but also frequently made as a monovarietal bottling. Spanish wines labelled Rueda must be at least 50% Verdejo; if the label more explicitly says Rueda Verdejo, the Verdejo content must be at least 85% and is often 100%.

(Do not confuse Verdejo with Verdelho, nor with Gouveio, which is often called "Verdelho". There will be a quiz in the morning.)

Verdejo makes a fairly full-bodied wine. In many descriptions, it is a soft, rounded, almost creamy wine, with a full nose and flavor; qualities such as "honeyed" and "nutty" are often heard in descriptions of the taste. On the other hand, not a few descriptions are rather different, emphasizing tartness, acid crispness, minerality, and definite citrus notes. Clearly, there are significant variations in winemaking style for Verdejo, and one needs to decide which style best meets personal preferences (though both might well do so). One style clue is if the label description referes to lees contact: if so, it is likely to be the softer, creamier style. Two other taste notes: a taste often mentioned for Verdejo is fennel, which is a mild anise flavor; also, many descriptions refer to a slightly bitter finish, which is seen as varietally characteristic and desireable.

Factoid: Verdejo seems especially prone to oxidation; modern winemaking techniques have much reduced the scope of the problem as the wine goes into the bottle, but it is still possible to find the occasional oxidized bottle if reasonable care was not taken at all stages of transportation and storage.

Some Descriptions of Verdejo Wines

  • Wikipedia

    "Verdejo wines are aromatic, often soft, and full-bodied."

  • Wines From Spain

    "Verdejo in Rueda is consistently good, regardless of the producer; but consistency of style for Verdejo remains unachieved. Some Verdejos are crisp and grassy like Sauvignon Blanc, while others are richer and textured like an unoaked Chardonnay."

  • Wine Searcher

    "Verdejo wines are high in glycerol and acid, sometimes taking on nutty flavors as it ages. It can be aromatic and herbaceous at its best, and is usually consumed young, within a couple of years of vintage. Some of the finest, best-structured examples, however, are worthy of short-term or mid-term cellaring."

  • Berry Bros. & Rudd

    "Typically Verdejo dominated wines are crisp with soft, creamy, nutty overtones, and sometimes accompanied by notes of honey. Arguably Spain's finest white grape variety."

  • Do Rueda

    "It has a unique flavour, with a hint of scrub herbs, a fruity touch and an excellent level of acidity. The extract, a key factor when assessing the personality of great white wines, is perceived through its volume and its characteristic bitter touch, which leaves a glint of originality in the mouth, accompanied by a rich fruity expression."

  • Michael Cervin, "Into Wine"

    "Similar in style and characteristics to Pinot Gris, Verdejo fully expresses itself in the high altitude of Rueda where it showcases lemon and citrus, minerality and above all, a sharp acidity which makes it compelling with the tapas so that are so ubiquitous around the region. . . At its best Verdejo is sharp and clean with lemon and lime notes, a backbone of minerality and a potent acidity. That may sound simple, but crafting excellent wines is not a simple process. It was also clear that many producers are trying their hand at a barrel fermented version and the results are less than spectacular. Verdejo is best when left alone and the inherent qualities are not interfered with. "

  • Bill Daley, Chicago Tribune

    "Like its Spanish sisters, albarino from the Rias Baixas region and macabeo (known as viura in the Rioja region), verdejo makes a terrific food wine. Its citrusy notes and aroma — very similar to sauvignon blanc — play particularly well with the composed salads and simple grilled foods of summer."

  • Worlds of Flavor: Spain

    "Verdejo is a fascinating grape, with great freshness and acidity balanced with rich body and notes of citrus, minerality, and melon. You may think of Spain as a classic Mediterranean country, but this high plateau is a classic continental climate with long cold winters, short springs, and hot summers. These high elevations, between 2500 and 3000 feet) allow the late maturing Verdejo grape to develop deep aromas and flavors. The result is a climate that makes dry, fresh wines with real character and brightness."

  • Total Wine

    "Verdejo produces full-bodied, yet crisp wine with a rich, nutty flavor. "

  • Espavino

    "Today’s young white wine is green-yellow in color, with an intensive fruity bouquet (gooseberry, green kiwi, passion fruit, citrus) flowery to dry (herbacious), quite juicy in the palate with harmonious body and intensive fruit aroma."

  • Good Housekeeping

    "Light-bodied and crisp, these wines smell like a big bowl of citrus and green apples. They're as delicious alone as they are with food."

  • Fringe Wine

    "Jancis Robinson, in her Vines, Grapes and Wines has this to say about Verdejo: 'Of all the white varieties among Spain's official top twenty, Verdejo is probably the one with the most discernibly aristocratic character.'"

  • Quentin Sadler, Catavino

    "So, Verdejo has had to sit out the last few hundred years on the sidelines, waiting for modern technology to treat it properly. We are so lucky that we can now enjoy fresh, lively wines from this wonderful grape. If you are not familiar with Verdejo, do dedicate a little more of your summer drinking to it, there are some splendid examples around and they all give great value for money. Stylistically Verdejo leans towards Sauvignon Blanc, so should appeal to the great majority of wine drinkers."

Some Verdejos to Try

(About this list.)

There is a myriad of reasonably priced Rueda Verdejos out there, and a great many have at least some critical recommendation. The ones shown below seem to be cited more often, though it may all be a matter of idiosyncratic tastes. Do be sure any Verdejo you buy is of a recent vintage, preferably the most recent on the market. Some do age, but the decision should be yours, not the retailer's.

The quotations below are excerpts; we strenuously urge you to click on the green diamond symbol by each quoted review to see the full article.
  • Agricola Castellana Cuatro Rayas Verdejo, $9 - $12.
    (Cuatro Rayas—a cooperative—makes a huge line of Verdejo bottlings; this is the standard bottling, not the "Vinedos Centenarios" or any other sub-named bottling.)
         ($10.94 at Saratoga Wine Exchange).

    Some quotations and facts:

    Refreshing and invigorating, this Spanish white is bursting with flavours of citrus and pears, but an underlying touch of spice gives a nice edge of richer complexity. This makes it versatile enough to drink with both simple fish dishes and white meats such as chicken or pork.

    [Google-translated from Spanish:] Cuatro Rayas Verdejo shows great fruit character, with great freshness and creaminess, fragrant and balanced. A classic brand in the area and the most representative in working with Verdejo.

    ♣ International Wine Cellar (8 October 2009), 88 points.

    Pale yellow. Pungent aromas of cut grass, lemon rind and herbs. Light-bodied citrus and green apple flavors display modest concentration but are refreshingly brisk and focused. Finishes on a juicy citrus note, with good clarity and length.

    [Google-translated from Spanish:] [S]traw yellow and greenish, bright; with hints of mint and fennel on the nose; and persistent on the palate, well balanced acidity and alcohol.

    Appearance: Pale yellow with greenish reflections. Nose: Intense, white flowers and tropical fruit, fragrant herbs. Varietal. Mouthfeel: Powerful, fresh acidity, fruity, balanced. Lingering. 91 points.

    Refreshing and invigorating, this Spanish white is bursting with flavours of citrus and pears.

    Aromas of cactus pad, green apple and jalapeño are true Verdejo, while the palate brings citrusy, melony fruit as well as chalky, minerally dryness. Tastes a bit like white grape skins, with tangerine and lemon on the finish. 86 points.

    For centuries verdejo in Rueda, Spain, was fashioned into fortified wine to compete with sherry, and the region sank into obscurity. Its transformation has come over the past 40 years as producers treat the grape to modern winemaking. This bottle is typical of the results – instantly refreshing, zesty and tropical.

  • Familia Martue Vinedos de Nieva "Blanco Nieva" Verdejo, $10 - $16.
    (Do not confuse this, their standard offering, with their "Los Navales" or Pie Franco" bottlings.)

    Some quotations and facts:

    Yellowish with a green hue in the glass. What a nose on this beauty! Intense grassy, grapefruit aromas. This one is immediately fresh, crisp and vibrant on the palate with bright, zesty lime flavors over a stony, mineral backbone. Passion fruit emerges on the mid-palate and remains throughout the dry, refreshing finish. This wine isn’t shy. It will smack you over the head and you are going to like what you get. The firm acidity here makes this one a compliment for nearly any food (ceviche would be my first choice). It is also perfectly suited to drink on its own. Pair with a sunny day! I’m getting me some more of this one. Viva Verdejo! Rating: Wow!

    This winery consistantly delivers an excellent, pure Verdejo under it’s eponymous label. This features strong aromas of nettle, passion fruit and green apple. The palate feel is a blend of zest and roundness, while flavors of citrus, grapefruit and green herbs precede a long finish. 90 points.

    Verdejo is a nice-guy wallflower, a pleaser in search of its crowd. But what’s not to love? This drinks like a $30 New Zealand Sauvignon blanc, flush with turbinado-sugar-sprinkled pink grapefruit. Spine-tingling acidity serves as scaffold for a fleshy middle oozing ripe white peach. Both elegant and plain-ol’ thrilling, like that guy/gal whose presence lights up a room upon entry – but who also turns out to be charming, intelligent and life-affirming in conversation later on. Next time you have friends over for fish grilled or fried, open this and everyone’s eyes will open a bit wider.

    [Google-translated from Spanish:] WHITE WINE TASTING NIEVA Verdejo 2012 IN 9 WORDS:
    View: Yellow Straw. Nose: Fruit - Grass. Palate: Creamy-Unctuous. 91 points.

    [Google-translated from Spanish:] The result is a classic Verdejo showing straw yellow with greenish iridescence and aroma medium to high, discreet, without fanfare intensity, but fine and persistent, with hints and notes of stone fruit, fresh fennel and a mineral background. The palate is fresh and fruity, but behind its cheerful serious taste hides great, tasty and unctuous wine full entry feelings. In short, a young, complex and sophisticated wine that combines perfectly with smoky, soft cheeses, ham, fish and seafood.

    [Google-translated from Spanish:] The result is a Verdejo showing a bright, bright straw yellow color with greenish reflections. Intense and pleasant aroma invites you to learn more notes of white flowers, quince, dried herb and anise. Its entry into mouth gets surprised by his sense of pleasure. Sweet, fresh, fruity with hints of pear and apple filling mouth and gets to stay for a long time in perfect balance. In short, elegant wine, very fruity and very fresh, with the best value.

    Grassy aromas along with capsicum, nettle and green fruit aromas are pungent and exciting. The palate is spritzy and lively, while the flavor profile balances sweet, candied green fruit flavors with more driving, intense tastes of lime and green melon. Forward, fun and elevated; drink now for ultimate freshness. 90 points.

    [Google-translated from Spanish:] Beautiful pale yellow, light straw with bright green and steely glare. Shy nose, takes a while to drop whatever you have. From the classic aromas of aniseed touches and Verdejo stand wildflowers and exotic fruits. The palate is elegant, tasty and powerful without being heavy. Highlights the fruity notes, which makes it very harmonious. It is very balanced between bitterness and acidity. Our impression: Straw yellow, as good Verdejo, very limpid and transparent, clear aromas of exotic fruits. As is the rage this year, pineapple. Combines nicely this exotic touch to the traditional characteristic citrus taste. It has the right acidity, which makes it very refreshing. It would be ideal for a cocktail or aperitif wine. Our rating: *** (of 5)

  • Protos Verdejo, $10 - $16.

    Some quotations and facts:

    Fresh, melony aromas give this Verdejo a pleasant, accurate bouquet that’s easygoing and not sharp. There are grapefruit and orange flavors, and a hint of chive. Nothing complicated; just pure white fruit fun with citrusy acids and a lightly bitter finish. 88 points.

    This fresh 2010 Protos . . . is a perfect introduction to a bottle that is 100 percent expression of the grape. On first sniff, it's invitingly juicy and exotic with aromas of green apple, jasmine, with maybe a little savory shade of fennel. Take a sip, though, and it does this earthy thing that the Spanish do better than anyone, offering a full burst of flavor on the front (quenching acidity and herbaceousness, with just enough glycerin richness to carry it for a while) that dries out completely on the finish with a pithy grapefruit smack. Take a nibble of your tapas (honeydew melon wrapped in Serrano ham?) and repeat.

    ♣ Wine Advocate (February, 2013), 88 points.

    ♣ Wine Spectator (30 September 2012), 86 points.

    The 2011 Verdejo is a fine bouquet of freshly squeezed lime and grapefruit cordial with good delineation. The palate is finely balanced with fresh grapefruit and melon flavors, leading to a simple, fresh finish.

    Appearance: Straw yellow with greenish highlights. Nose: Intense, ripe tropical fruits, citrus fruits, white flowers, spicy notes. Varietal. Mouthfeel: Powerful, balanced, full-flavoured, fruity, fresh acidity. Lingering. 91 points.

    How’s it look? This Verdejo is a golden green, with a medium body, and thin legs that suggest the Protos copywriter wasn’t lying when she suggested the wine might not be sweet.
    How’s it smell? Fresh and fruity, with some grassy notes, a noticeable tartness, and no trace of alcohol or tannins.
    But how does it taste? Very bold and fruity, with almost no kick. The primary fruit flavors are apple-ish, but there are also some hints of pineapple and other tropical fruits. The grassy notes on the nose definitely make their way into the flavor as well, but the bold, tart fruit flavor seems to overpower just about everything else. It combines the herbal and grassy notes of a Sauvignon Blanc with the kind of intense fruit flavor you’d expect from a pinot. It’s good, and somewhat unprecedented in my wine-drinking experience.

    Nose: Nice riverstone, elderberry, pineapple and lime on the nose. I also pick up hints of some ivory soap and petrol on the back-end which I’m really digging on. Taste: Nice flavors of gasoline-soaked pebbles, chalk dust and pineapple for days with some nice green apple component coming through. It has a very clean, very focused finish with stellar acidity that feels like a razor scraping my tongue clean. I realize that this wine won’t be for everyone – especially those who are into the *gasp* sweeter rieslings or *double gasp* buttery chardonnays; however, if you pair this with the right food or drink it on a nice, sunnny day, it’ll reward you with a great taste of Spain.

    Attractive lemon and tangerine citrus aromas. Good depth and richness of citrus and yellow flowers flavor on the palate with excellent balance and length. The wine has good acidity and freshness. 90 points.

    Flinty, smoky and grassy notes show a resemblance to Pouilly-Fumé in this firm, austere white. Modest green apple and grapefruit notes add some breadth.

    [F]resh and racy, with pink grapefruit, melon and a mineral spine.

  • Shaya "Old Vines" Verdejo, $10 - $17.
    (This is the standard, not the "Habis", Old Vines bottling.)

    Some quotations and facts:

    With a bright nose of spice, kiwi, peach and spring flowers, this medium straw-colored wine delivers tropical fruit consistently on the palate from the start to its long finish. A perfect balance of fruitness and vibrant acidity, the wine has a heft to it provided by the aging of 40% of the juice in French oak. More subtle than American oak, this accounts for some of the 'baking spice' notes.

    [Translated from Spanish:] We love the fruitiness of this Verdejo, as it stops short of being aromatically over the top. The old vines (a few centuries old) from Segovia from which it is made give the wine volume and smoothness on the palate. An elegant and very balanced white. Score - 91.

    ♣ International Wine Cellar (September 2011), 90 points.

    ♣ Wine Advocate (date unknown), 91 points.

    The Verdejo grapes for the 2009 Shaya are sourced from both estate vineyards and local growers with vine age ranging from 75-112 years. The wine was barrel-fermented and aged on its lees. Medium straw-colored, if offers up an alluring aroma of baking spices, spring flowers, and peach. On the palate it has a creamy texture, vibrant acidity, and intense flavors leading to a lengthy, fruit-filled finish. It is a great value in dry, aromatic white wine that over-delivers in a big way. Bodegas Shaya is a new collaboration between the Gil family of Jumilla and importer Jorge Ordonez.”

    Bright, green-tinged straw. Intense green apple, pear skin and lime aromas are complicated by white pepper and herbs. Taut and refreshingly bitter, with attractive herbal and mineral accents to the ripe citrus and orchard fruit flavors. Finishes clean and long, with an echoing peppery note.

    Pale gold. Musky pear and pit fruit aromas are complicated by suggestions of honey, minerals and anise. Shows a suave blend of richness and vivacity, with a note of bitter lemon pith accenting deeply pitched orchard fruit flavors. Shapely and supple in texture, finishing with noteworthy length.

    Stony aromas of nectarine and peach are the opening. This feels round and melony, with creamy melon, papaya and banana flavors that scream tropical more than mineral. A honeyed finish is sweet initially, then pithy on the close out. 87 points.

    [O]ne of my very favorite Spanish white wines. In general, it beats Chardonnay hands down, 9 times out of 10 – buttery complexity on the palate, roll-of-your-tongue goodness, round and perfectly balanced. 8+

    We decided to pair our light and creamy cheese with the 2009 Shaya Old Vines Verdejo. This Spanish wine was well-deserving of its 91 point rating. It had a pleasant aroma of citrus (particularly grapefruit and lemon) and a hint of honey. Those same notes of citrus and honey were on the palate after a slightly sweet start. It was light and bright with a nice, crisp finish. It also had a bit of creaminess that came out when paired with the fresh Asiago.

  • Taninia Palacio de Bornos Verdejo, $11 - $15.

    Some quotations and facts:

    This dry Spanish white wine from the underappreciated verdejo grape is an outstanding value — with complexity found in few chardonnays or sauvignon blancs twice the price. It's a very fresh wine, with an exotic mix of mineral, pine, mint, lime, pear and apple and pineapple flavors. . . this verdejo moves crisply across the palate and finishes strong.

    Zesty and clean, with pure grapefruit and passion fruit aromas. It’s charged up but perfectly balanced, with bright, focused citrus and pineapple flavors. Lemony acidity keeps the finish rolling, then throw in some chive and fresh greens and you have a spot-on Verdejo. 90 points.

    It is a pale straw color with aromas of pear, banana, lemon and a hint of sea salt. The wine has a light body and a crisp acidity that makes it very refreshing. The wine, also has a round mouthfeel with fruit aromas that give it a nice richness.

    In terms of coloration, there was nothing anomalous to note. The wine was a pale yellow and possessed a great clarity. The aromas were different than I expected. It looked like lighter wine but it had strong floral notes that I could detect as soon as I opened the bottle. The nose was also slightly sweet, with mild acidity and a hint of some fruit that I wasn't able to put my finger on during the smell test. The tasting confirmed (kind of) some of what I smelled in the glass. The wine had a full body and more acidity than I anticipated upfront but it backed off long enough for me to detect some pear. I assume it was pear. I don't eat pear regularly so I am jumping back to my memory on this one. It could have been a soft apple flavor and I could be totally wrong about the pear. I know it is hard to believe, but I have been wrong before. However, I am not wrong in saying it had a very pungent, aggressively floral, highly acidic finish. The finish didn't feel out of place though. Rating: Enjoy Again.

    A definite whiff of the pub urinals, which I find disconcertingly appealing, nostalgic almost. Violets and grapefruit with some baked bread, but the palate is a little flat and uninspiring. Would appeal to Sauvignon fans I imagine, but not the finest ever expression of Verdejo.

    With the best Verdejo we expect both texture and complexity along with a vibrant, lemony citrus character and a healthy dose of pear. With Bornos, two fun things happen as well: it exhibits little of the grassy notes found in some Verdejo (or its occasional amigas Viura or Sauvignon Blanc), and the finish has a fascinating, almost tangible pear-skin note.

    Appearance: Straw yellow in colour with greenish reflections. Nose: Intense, fresh fruit and white flowers, mountain herbs. Hints of citrus. Varietal. Mouthfeel: Powerful, fresh, balanced, dry, full-flavoured, fruity, pleasant acidity. 90 points.

    We're new to Spanish whites, but we were pleasantly surprised by this crisp and refreshing wine. It looks like water in the glass, but don't be fooled. It packs a nice, full-bodied punch. The grapefruit and citrus flavors easily cut through the grease and starch of the tater tots like a hot knife through butter. And the tater tots even brought out the fruit in the wine. This is probably the first time you've heard of fast food enhancing the flavor of wine. Trust us, it did.

  • Bodega Javier Sanz "Villa Narcisa" Verdejo, $11 - $15.

    Some quotations and facts:

    This is a complex Spanish white wine. What do I mean by complex? When you first sip it, it has an acidic bite, JPH noted that it would be really good with Spanish Olives - WOW, would it ever. But then, in the middle, you get an exotic fruitiness, I would go so far as to say mango, and then boom, the sweet finish that leaves you wanting more. Javier Sanz @ Villa Narcisa, well done. You make a great white wine. By the third glass, it was just as complex and very easy to drink.

    The Javier Sanz Verdejo is beautifully balanced with fragrant lemon citrus, almond, and stony minerals. It has good acidity and freshness along with ripe fruit and a very pleasing, lingering finish. Made from 40+ year old bush vines. 89 points.

    List of awards & reviews of Sanz "Villa Narcisa" Verdejo.

    ♣ International Wine Cellar (date unknown), 89 points.

    ♣ Wine Advocate (date unknown), 87 points.

    Appearance: Golden yellow with green reflections. Nose: Powerful, white stone fruit, sweet spices, well-integrated wood. Mouthfeel: Balanced. Pleasant aftertaste. 89 points.

    The wine, Javier Sanz Viticultor 2010 Villa Narcisa Verdejo, was the perfect pairing to a sunny day. Light yellow in color (like a ray of sun), it had a green, fresh, light nose. I could smell hints of honey, lemon or just citrus, but nothing over powering. The palette [sic] matched the nose, light, airy, hints of citrus, a little floral. Basically, it was Spring in a glass. And this wine is worth raving about! I love, love, loved the lightness of the wine. It was the perfect match to my salty snack. There was nothing over powering or too strong about this wine. It is also a great stand alone wine. To be honest, I had all of two almonds before ditching them just for the wine. It has been awhile since I have enjoyed a glass of white this much and it was worth the wait.

    This Spanish varietal was new to us - its like a Sauvignon Blanc but with a fuller body.

    Javier Sanz’ great grandfather was the founder of this bodega. From the beginning and continuing to today, these wines are produced with only estate-grown fruit, something unusual for the area. Villa Narcissa [sic] is made from 35-45 year old vines which deliver a full-bodied white with aromatics of apple, pear and some citrus fruit. Very long and loaded with minerals and bracing acidity, the flavors are rich and ripe. This is serious Verdejo, aged in stainless steel vats to preserve the intense aromatics.

    Closed aromatically, possibly due to age of vines or age of wine. Fuller volume, richer and more generous texture, a little more weight and intensity of fruit sweetness. Depth and concentration, more warmth too. Riper fruit characters, more orchard fruits and tight tropical elements. Bolder and more serious, with great balance and texture, and fantastic length.

  • Cuatro Rayas "Vinedos Centenarios" Verdejo, $12 - $18.
    (Cuatro Rayas makes a huge line of Verdejo bottlings; do not confuse this with any other sub-named Cuatro Rayas bottling.)
         ($13.54 at Saratoga Wine Exchange).

    Some quotations and facts:

    Pungent, grassy and ultrafresh, with citric aromas and textbook scents of wild grass, nettles and passionfruit. The palate is similar, with passionfruit, green melon and citrus front and center. The feel is wet and flashy, and overall this is a very nice wine to match with salads, fish and the like. 89 points.

    This co-op turns out plenty of Rueda for its price-conscious customers. Here the benefit of old vines shows through, with a golden peach richness, lifted by typical herbal and fennel elements. 90 points.

    Verdejo can often slip into the (unpleasant) Delmonte tropical fruit cocktail spectrum of flavours that’s reminiscent of sauvignon blanc grown in the Sahara, but the 2011 Cuatro Rayas Viñedos Centenarios, made from over 100 year-old, pre-phylloxera vines is well worth discovering. Cuatro Rayas is the largest producer in the Rueda DO, accounting for 20% of the total production, proving that big is not necessarily bad. But to be fair this wine is described as a “whim” of winemaker Angel Calleja, made in limited quantities from the company’s most prized parcels. You’ll find intriguing incense and dried spearmint leaf aromas on the nose, with citrus-lemon-grapefruit notes underlying, while the palate delivers considerable flavour impact carried by sharp acids and above average concentration.

    I like the nervous tension in this tart, light-medium-bodied white, which dishes up flavours of lemon drop and herbs, culminating with pleasantly bitter chalkiness. It would be grand with light seafood. 89 points.

    Appearance: Pale yellow with a tinge of green. Nose: Intense, floral, fresh fruit, spicy and citrus notes. Varietal. Mouthfeel: Powerful, balanced, full-flavoured, fresh, pleasant. Lingering. 91 points.

    Of the four Spanish whites [tasted], clear winner is Cuatro Rayas Vinedos Centenarios 2011 Verdejo (89+) with peaches, pear and crisp apple and minerals — vibrant.

    Fermented in stainless steel with indigenous yeasts. Left to age on its lees for 4 months. It’s known for its herbal and nutty aromas and flavours in addition to those of tree fruit. Ideal with grilled white fish.

    This is a premium white wine vinified entirely from the Verdejo grape variety, selected from vineyards with more than a century old. A wine with golden yellow colour and greenish undertones. Clean, powerful and fresh on the nose, which is a varietal characteristic. Fruity and herbal with a hint of fennel coming through. Full flavoured, powerful but well balanced with a silky texture, hints of white fruit and herbs.

  • Angel Rodriguez "Martinsancho" Verdejo, $12 - $22.
         ($14.94 at Saratoga Wine Exchange).

    Some quotations and facts:

    This is an exceptional wine in that it is utterly enjoyable now, and is one of the rare white wines that critics believe will age well for several years. Aromas of passion fruit and guava are enticing. The Verdejo grape is high in glycerol, giving this wine a rich, silky, focused mouthfeel despite the high acidity. The guava flavor carries through with a strong mineral backbone and hints of green almonds and a bit of salinity. Another thing that makes this particular wine exceptional is its ability to pair well with foods that are typically considered a bit more “challenging” – for instance roasted Brussels sprouts with tangy lemon dressing.

    Tasting note: A tropical nose, white nectarine and pineapple. White stone fruit on the palate, rich and full initially yet delicate and elegant on the finish. A great food wine. Final Say: The Martinsancho Verdejo is often used referred to as a benchmark Verdejo, I agree wholeheartedly.

    ♣ International Wine Cellar (September/October 2012), 90 points.

    ♣ Wine Advocate (June 2011), 90 points.

    The 2010 Marinsancho Verdejo is, as usual, one of the finest of its vintage. It is a terroir-driven offering with aromas of melon, citrus, nutmeg, mineral, and floral notes. Crisp, vibrant, and intense, this impeccably balanced offering is a role-model of precision Verdejo.

    Pale yellow. Vibrant, mineral-inflected aromas and flavors of citrus fruits and green apple, with quinine and white pepper nuances. Dry and racy, offering zesty lift and a long, focused finish. This pure, energetic wine will work with all sorts of seafood dishes or with fresh cheeses.

    The Martinsancho Rueda Verdejo 2012 has sharp, crisp flavors of citrus, pears and nuts, with a pleasant minerality. The more you sip the more you fall in love with the wine. As more wine drinkers discover the joy of Verdejo, it will grow in popularity. For me, this wasn’t a particularly pleasant wine to sip by itself, but when you have it with a meal, the result is magical. There is plenty of fruit, but the balancing acidity keeps it structured and sharp. Each different kind of food I tried it with brought out new flavors. It has a medium finish, with a very nice aftertaste.

    It was a light yellow straw color with a floral, grassy, herbaceous nose. The palate is clean, fresh, and crisp, with ripe apple, melon, lemon, almond and smoke with a little anise on the long lasting finish. An excellent example of Spain's finest Verdejo wine.

    This white gold colored Verdejo opens with a mild yellow grapefruit like bouquet. On the palate, this wine is light bodied, reasonably acidic and lively. The flavor profile is a mineral infused light grapefruit with notes of Granny Smith apples, white pepper, and quinine. I also picked up a bit of pilsner beer. The finish is quite dry and its flavors fade away nicely. 89 points.

    It is a serious wine that is crisp and refreshing, while offering complex aromas and flavors of apple, peach and melon, with hints of nuts and spices and a long, lingering finish.

    Aromatics of pear, stone fruit, white flowers and honey. On the palate, stone and orchard fruit with some citrus, a burst of tropical fruit (papaya, mango) and loaded with salty minerality. Very approachable and food friendly, not to mention an outstanding value.

  • Bodegas Jose Pariente Verdejo, $15 - $25.

    Some quotations and facts:

    Fresh, perky, sweaty and citric on the nose, which all creates a textbook bouquet. The palate is slightly spritzy, with flavors of passionfruit, pineapple and sweet white grapefruit. Fresh yet a little fleshy, with a long, zesty finish. Drink as soon as possible to capture the essence of a fine vintage. 90 points.

    The 2011 José Pariente Verdejo is made from 100% Verdejo from the Pariente family’s 30-year-old vineyard. This wine is clear, straw-yellow and on the nose I picked up slightly under ripe bananas, peaches, white flowers and apricots. After much swirling (it was served rather cold) I picked up additional aromas of honeycomb and melon. On the palate this wine has high acidity, it is medium bodied and has a prolonged finish with lingering notes of zesty dried apricots.

    ♣ Wine Advocate (date unknown), 91 points.

    ♣ Wine Spectator (date unknown), 89 points.

    ♣ International Wine Cellar (date unknown), 90 points.

    Light, bright gold. Complex aromas of melon, fig, lemon curd and pungent herbs. Dense but lively, with concentrated honeydew, pear and dried fig flavors energized by a bitter lemon note. Finishes very long, with lingering minerality. I really like this wine's energy and focus.

    Green-tinged yellow. Slow-to-open aromas evoke lime zest, herbs and salty minerals. Very tight and mineral-dominated in the mouth, offering chewy citrus flavors and a hint of honeysuckle. Finishes with firm stony grip and a strong citrus quality. Give this a little air.

    The 2009 Jose Pariente Verdejo had brief lees contact. Medium straw-colored, it emits a pleasing perfume of baking spices, nutmeg, spring flowers, and pit fruits. Creamy-textured with good grip in the mouth, it has plenty of spicy, savory fruit, lively acidity, and a medium-long finish.

    The wise palates at Theatre of Wine in Tufnell Park and Greenwich share my enthusiasm for this magnificent and yet inexpensive Verdejo. Crystal clear, racy, lemony and herbal this is a wicked substitute for lacklustre Sauvignon Blanc. I have listed this wine at Bibendum for over a decade and it entrances everyone who tastes it. If you are looking for a change of diet in your aperitif wines then this is it.

    Appearance: Brilliant straw-yellow colour with greenish reflections; Aroma: Intense and complex. Fruity; notes of tropical fruits, passion fruit and citrus aromas. Aromas of fennel, scrubland in a background of anise, balsamic; especially elegant and fresh; Taste: On the palate it is equally fruity and fresh, structured and lingering. Glutinous, sweet and with an elegant touch of bitterness at the end, characteristic of the Verdejo variety.

    [Google-translated from german:] Once in the glass you can see a bright, shiny straw yellow color with greenish reflections. The fragrant, slightly grassy bouquet with fresh flavors of gooseberries, fresh herbs, and citrus fruits such as lime, grapefruit or lemon are typical of well-crafted Verdejos. On the palate, fruity and full-bodied, overall very juicy, with animating freshness, racy acidity and fine minerality. The fragrant aromas of the bouquet are also to feel good on the palate, fine enveloped by the slightly creamy texture. A fine balance of softness fullness, fruit and freshness.

For a Splurge

From the sea of Verdejo wine out there, it is hard to pick a real standout, but what may come closest is the Familia Martue Vinedos de Nieva "Pie Franco" Verdejo, available at retail (from only a few places) for from $23 to $27.

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