Today is World Verdejo Day, the perfect time to celebrate this indigenous white grape, typical of Rueda, Spain. Verdejo wines generally have the following predominant flavors: fennel, white peach, grapefruit pith, green melon, and lime, with grassy and citrus notes, which yield a white wine that is fruity, aromatic, fresh, and crisp. Verdejo wines also improve during years of bottle-aging, unlike most white wines. With time, these unique wines obtain an even richer texture and flavor. They are generally a pale greenish yellow in the glass.
The name Verdejo comes from the Spanish word for green, or verde, and these unique grapes are grown in eight regions of Spain, though DO Rueda, in Castile-León, is the primary producer, accounting for around 61% of the total. The region is home to countless vineyards with sandy soils and vines that are over 100 years old. At present there are more than 60 wineries in Rueda making Verdejo wines.
It is believed that the Verdejo grape originated in Northern Africa and was brought to the region more than 1,000 years ago, and that it declined in popularity in the early 1900 when sherry-like white wines became especially trendy. Then, in the 1970s, legendary winemaker Marqués de Riscal saw the potential of Verdejo and helped revive demand. According to DO Rueda regulations, Rueda wines must be made from at least 50% Verdejo grapes, and Rueda Verdejo wines must contain 85% Verdejo grapes.