Framing the northeastern corner of Portugal, Spain’s autonomous region of Castilla y León shares a noteworthy river system with its Iberian neighbour – the famed Duero; fed by the Trabancos, Zapardiel and Adaja tributaries. The flood terraces and alluvial soil deposits that make up their banks are called los Arribes del Duero and have been the home to unique grape varieties and a wine culture since the 11th century. Founded as separate kingdoms, Castilla and León are some of the ‘green lands’ of western Spain that were repopulated during the reigns of King Alfonso VI and VII; both of whom made small territorial gains while pushing back the Moorish expansion. Along with an influx of Basque and Cantabrian people, drawn by the region’s farming potential, ironically it was
the Muslim Mozárabes from southern Spain who reputedly introduced grapevines that originated in North Africa – merely as a source of fresh fruit. With a long history of regional refinement, these adapted cultivars of Verdejo are now considered indigenous – producing crisp, aromatic and characterful wines!
With a distant heritage of mainly outputting Palomino Fino sherry, the 74 towns and villages of Castilla y León’s central province of Rueda has gradually become the world’s epicenter for the production of Verdejo white wine styles. Here on a high-altitude and rocky plateau, 90% of the 13,000 hectares is solely dedicated to Verdejo vine stock; topped-off by small lots of Sauvignon Blanc and Viura that are mainly employed in blends such as Verdejo Blanco. For this DéClassé feature of Flor de Vetus Verdejo 2015, the varietal wine’s slow-ripening fruit has been sourced from older bush vines of a single vineyard. Despite still being a young winemaking enterprise that was only established in 2003, Grupo Artevino and their Bodegas Vetus shrewdly continue to build on their portfolio; selecting land plots according to suitability for each particular grape variety. Judging by the results demonstrated in this satisfying bottling, the property near Segovia is a real winner for Verdejo.
As 2016 comes to a close, what remains true is that North American markets are still very slow to embrace white wines other than the enduring stars such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio and Soave. So, with a view to newer possibilities in 2017, and a spirit of expanding your predisposed tastes, add Spain’s Verdejo to your DéClassé-recommended listing of alternate dry whites: Pecorino, Picpoul, Gavi di Gavi, Muscat, Coda di Volpe, Grüner Veltliner, and Vouvray/Chenin Blanc!
FLOR DE VETUS VERDEJO 2015
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #320259 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 15.95
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD
Made in Rueda, Spain
By: Bodegas Vetus
Release Date: December 10, 2016
This is a zippy and vibrant, dry white that’s tinged with subtle herb, citrus and mineral notes accenting its medium body full of tropical fruit and melon. As with food pairings that might suit more-fulsome versions of Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gris, try serving this Verdejo with savoury canapés, Caprese salad, seafood such as shellfish and oysters or pan-seared trout with lemon butter and almonds.