THE RISE, AND RISE OF THE RUEDA EMPIRE
EXEMPLIFIED BY THE WINES OF BODEGAS DIEZ SIGLOS
I read a startling statistic recently (from Spain’s best wine magazine, PlanetAVino) – apparently one in every three bottles of Spanish wine sold in Spain is from DO Rueda! And there’s more: in 1990 there were 4·5 million bottles of Rueda wine sold, a quite impressive figure, though it pales almost into insignificance when compared with last year’s sales of over 63 million!
Rueda can also boast that it is placed third in Spain for the largest number of bottles sold (behind Rioja and Ribera del Duero); and that in the hotel/restaurant trade it is only Rioja which enjoys better sales. The Rueda empire continues to rise, with analysts predicting a further double figure percentage increment in sales of the present 2013 vintage.
Also, when set against a background of the dreadful recession we have all been suffering for years now, this Spanish success story is even more impressive. So just why is Rueda wine doing so well, and what precipitated such a change in fortunes?
The principle grape variety of the region is Verdejo, a variety which is prone to early oxidation. The majority of wines made in the area suffered because of this problem. However help was at hand, in terms of major advancement in wine-making technology, a change of vineyard husbandry and wine-making method and, of course, considerable investment.
During the mid – late ’90s enterprising bodegas began to harvest their grapes in small 16kg baskets during the hours of darkness and to quickly transport them to cool temperature controlled bodegas (often by means of refrigerated trucks), thus hugely reducing the risk of early, uncontrolled fermentation.
Once in the bodegas they were left to cool completely before being placed in fermentation vats where all the oxygen was displaced by an inert gas that was pumped in – radically reducing any risk of early oxidation. Bottling, and in some cases, transfer into oak casks was achieved again without the presence of oxygen.
Suddenly the locals had to adapt to a whole new brew game and the rest of the wine world began to ‘discover’ a variety that had been around for centuries!
Bodegas Diez Siglos (named in honour of those who, over the centuries, like themselves, have been dedicated to preserving this gem of a variety) is a producer whose wines are exemplary if you’re trying to discover the secret of the success of the DO. I was sent two from their small portfolio of wines and I can recommend them to you!
Nékora 2012 is made from 100% Verdejo and is inexpensively priced – a super wine for your fridge to be brought out when friends visit. You’ll find that on opening, perhaps in the kitchen, the gooseberry and fennel loaded aromas will soon have your guests sniffing the air on the pool-side terrace!
This wine is brim full of fruit nuance as well as grassy and aniseed notes. It’s light on the palate and although fruit driven from the start there’s an elegance about the wine too. It has the body for a medium length finish and I’ll guarantee you’ll soon reach for the bottle for another glass.
You can pair it with salads and Asian food as well as fish and seafood and if cooking lemon chicken for example, you have to have this wine!
Diez Siglos 100% Verdejo 2012 is a more grown-up wine. There’s a subtlety about the wine which might initially make you think of a fine Sancerre and then maybe one of the original Cloudy Bay Sauvignons from New Zealand. However, hold it on your palate and you’ll find it gives you more. You might think it has been fermented in oak and/or had perhaps a month in maybe a third year oak barrel because of its depth, but like me, you’d be wrong!
It’s full on the palate with herbs, a touch of asparagus, some ripe kiwi fruit and gooseberry of course, with fennel and with a whiff of white rose petals too. It has a long finish and really is super dry white wine for aperitif drinking and with fish, seafood, Thai and Indonesian cuisine and, hey, just for the sheer pleasure!
With so many Reuda wines on the market now, it’s good to know a name to look out for and I don’t hesitate in recommending the full range of Bodegas Diez Siglos.