Spain is hot right now. Well, it is usually hot all the time due to the sunshine! Over the past few years, we have been enjoying the very popular Albariño wine from the Rias Baixas region in Galicia. It is a crowd-pleasing style with flavours of citrus and peach, known for its high acidity and occasional spritz.
But there is a new kid in town, you heard it here first it is Verdejo; pronounced (v er – d AI – h oh). This white bombshell is a super fun, sexy little grape that is usually packed with fruit, aromatic, crisp, fresh and lively. From the Rueda region which is close to Madrid; it is hotter here than in Galicia where Albariño is found, which means that Verdejo wines will have more concentrated fruit flavours and fuller body.
Why should you try it? Well if you like Sauvignon Blanc, Verdejo is a fantastic alternative as they share similarities, in that it is fruity fresh and vibrant. DO Rueda allows for a wine to have 100% Verdejo grape or they can be blended with Sauvignon Blanc or Viura another native grape from Spain. Verdejo is generally an approachable wine usually no oak, an extremely versatile wine with food.
If you want to expand your palate, tantalise your taste buds and discover lesser-known grapes here are a few Verdejos to try.
Merinas Verdejo Ucles
An organic wine with pleasant aromas of citrus fruits, zesty lemon on the palate with notes of white flowers and refreshing crisp acidity. A delicate wine, very appealing and has a lovely pleasant aftertaste. Gorgeous to drink on its own or with nibbles and it will work great with lighter fish, salads and goats’ cheese. Even my mother in law gave this wine the thumbs up and she is fussy!
Available from; 1601 Off Licence, Baggot Street Wines, Blackrock Cellars, Bradleys, Deveneys, Drinkstore, Dsix, La Touche, Lilac Wines, Listons, Morton’s Ranelagh, Nectar, Pig & Heifer, Red Island, SIYPS, Sweeneys, Winehouse Trim.
Val de Vid Verdejo
Intense aromatics of tropical fruits, juicy pink lady apples and ripe pear. Fresh, elegant and smooth, on the palate with herbaceous notes and a grapefruit finish. The wine is complex with a medium weight in body and a long lingering finish.
I enjoyed this Verdejo in Kajal restaurant Malahide and its diverse flavours allowed it to stand up to the Pakistani intense spices and flavours.
Approx – €15.95
Available from; Brady’s Off Licence Shankill, Martin’s Off Licence Fairview, Morton’s Ranelagh,
Searsons.com and the store in Monkstown
Most of you have heard of Rioja, right? Well, I was speaking to someone recently and they thought that Rioja was the grape variety. In fact, Rioja is a wine region in Spain. Tempranillo is generally the main grape that is found in the two largest producing red wine regions of Spain, Rioja & Ribera del Duero. A winemaker may choose to use 100% Tempranillo, or it can be blended with Garnacha, Graciano & Mazuelo other indigenous grapes found in Spain.
Tempranillo is a thick-skinned grape, what does that even mean? Well, it means that is a hearty grape that can fight against rot, disease, sunburn, yes grapes get sunburnt! It also means that you can get great colour from Tempranillo, it is also high in tannins (think cotton wool in your mouth) however as Rioja is very often aged in oak barrels it tends to have softer silky tannins. For many people, the vanilla or spice notes from aged Rioja wines are what makes them fall in love with the grape and region or the complete opposite. These are some Tempranillo based wines worth trying.
Merinas Tempranillo Ucles
A deliciously soft smooth wine made with organic grapes, bursting with redcurrants, red berries and a sprinkling of spice. An easy drinking style with smooth tannins which is ideal for any occasion, enjoy on its own or with cured meats and cheese or any tapas dish.
Approx – €13.00
Available from; 1601 off licence, Baggot street, Blackrock, Bradleys, Deveneys, Drinkstore, Dsix, La Touche Wines, Lilac Wines, Listons, Mortons Galway and Ranelagh, Nectar, Pig & Heifer, Red Island, SIYPS, Sweeneys, Winehouse Trim and Clontarf Wines.
Finca Carelio Tempranillo
I tried this wine about six months ago although it was tasty, I felt that it needed a bit more time in bottle to soften its rough edges. That it did. Finca Carelio is a diamond in the rough, concentrated and complex dark berry aromas and layers on the palate by that I mean every time you taste a sip you discover a new flavour; rich ripe blackberries, dark plums, hints of spice, vanilla pod and silky, smooth velvety tannins. It is a luscious wine great paired with meat stews, grilled meat or good quality dark chocolate. By far and away the best value for money wine I have enjoyed recently.
Approx – €15.00
Available from; 1601 Off licence, Baggot Street Wines, Blackrock Cellars, Bradleys, Browns Vineyard, Clontarf Wines, Corkscrew, Drinkstore, Dsix, Greenman wines, Kellys Off Licence, Martins Off Licence, McHughs, Mitchells, Morton’s Ranelagh, Nectar, On the Grapevine, Red island wine, WWC, Wine Centre Kilkenny.
Celeste Ribera del Duero Crianza
An all-time favourite; a classic wine from the Torres family. The Ribera del Duero region is at a higher altitude than Rioja, so the wines are distinctively different. Celeste is intense, robust, concentrated and deep in colour. Elegant aromas of ripe red fruit, violet floral notes and a touch of spice. The wine is fresh due to the balanced acidity and the oak is perfectly integrated allowing this wine to have smooth soft tannins. A perfect pairing with roast lamb or beef and roasted Mediterranean vegetables.
Approx – €22.00
Available from; Molloys Liquor Stores, O’Briens nationwide, O’Driscolls, Sweeney’s.
La Vendimia Rioja Tempranillo
Alvaro Palacios is one of my favourite winemakers, he passionately crafts wines in a modern style. La Vendimia meaning ‘harvest’ is a youthful wine; a blend of Tempranillo and Garnacha (Grenache). Ripe red cherries and strawberry jam aromas follow through to the palate, the wine is light in body and is delicate as it spends less than six months ageing in oak barrels. Tannins are soft, this is the style of wine that can be enjoyed chilled. Great with rustic stews, tomato-based dishes and tagines.
Approx – €22.00
Available from; D6 Wines, La Touche Wines, Martins Off Licence, Whelehan’s Wines
Tempranillo is a very versatile grape and I believe there is a time and place for every style of it. Let me know if you have tried any of these wines or if you would recommend any other Tempranillo wines?
Hi, I am Lynda Coogan owner of Wine Tasting Ireland, I am delighted to be part of The Taste team where I can passionately share my love and knowledge of wine with you. I hold a WSET Diploma in wine, I have ten years’ experience in the wine trade and I am a member of the Guild of Sommeliers. Wine Tasting Ireland, specialises in hosting fun, interactive wine tastings for groups.
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