Palacio de Bornos where Verdejo is Queen!


My guess is that the above won’t mean a lot to you? And yet, I’m fairly certain that you will have tasted and enjoyed, perhaps all, but at least, some of the wines made by this wine-making group.

I remember clearly the first time I tasted a Verdejo white wine from DO Rueda. I was with friends at Hal’s house and, like all present, including our host, I was challenged by one of our number to identify the wine that had just been poured, blind, into our glasses.

We had just arrived, had enjoyed the obligatory palate cleansing glass of Cava and were chatting amongst ourselves anticipating the lengthy tasting that was one of the reasons for our being there! A silence descended as we took up Pepe’s gauntlet.

By its stem, we held the wine against a white background and scribbled our ‘visual phase notes’. Swirling the glass and then sniffing the contents, a faint light dawned on some of our faces whilst some, including myself, had brows furrowed alternately in perplexity and in the light.

On the palate the perfectly chilled wine refreshed our taste-buds, as we swept it over the tongue’s receptors to detect any: sweetness; bitterness; saltiness; and acidity. As we allowed the wine to warm slightly, tiny vaporised molecules were released like illuminating Chinese lanterns, to float towards the olfactory passage on their journey of discovery to the brain, to tell us: what we were tasting; did we like it; which fruits could we identify; was there any oak involved; etc etc.

Silence prevailed. Over ten minutes we all drained the glass, making occasional additions to our notes, and crossings-out, until, as one, we held it out for a refill! The one thing on which we were all agreed was that the wine was delicious! Vociferous discussion followed and there was a collective ‘shame’ cried aloud when Pepe informed us that it was the only bottle!

We were, in fact, all wrong – but we were close, although it won’t immediately sound like it! I had concluded that the wine was a blend, with Sauvignon Blanc adding the lion’s share, with perhaps another two varieties in the mix. And the other two? Well I’d guessed some high altitude Chardonnay and maybe the slightest touch of Albariño. Then again, maybe some ripe Macabeo with a little Airén that had been left on its lees a while, was the background to the Sauvignon?

Nah! It was a monovarietal Verdejo from Bodegas Palacio de Bornos! Now, here’s a wine that you’ve tasted, no?

Thus started my passion for quality Verdejo, a variety that had been around in Rueda  for hundreds of years, but essentially only in Rueda, and with only a small group of enthusiasts enjoying the wine. Verdejo’s metamorphosis from such a state to being now the most bought white wine in Spain is a rags to riches story par excellence. A variety which many commentators, myself included, shares some of the same taste and aroma characteristics as the ubiquitous Sauvignon Blanc.

Bodegas Palacio de Bornos also makes Sparkling Wine made with 100% Verdejo! And, with a view to writing my second article for the UK based international Sparkling Wine magazine, Glass of Bubbly, I wrote to the bodega to ask for a couple of samples.

My letter brought a dividend – several more wines from the various bodegas within the same group, Taninia Bodegas y Viñedos. One such wine was my old friend, Bornos Verdejo, the very wine that Hal, another great old friend, now sadly no longer with us, and I tasted together on that eventful day years ago!

But, as we did at the aforementioned tasting, I’m going to start with the Fizz! Spain’s most famous Sparkling Wine is, of course, Cava. But, as many Cork Talk readers will know, quality Spanish Sparkling Wine is not just about Cava, lovely though it is! And one of the delights of fizz made in other areas of Spain is that such wines are made with a plethora of different grape varieties.

When these other grapes are some of the most aromatic in Spain they can add another dimension to the finished article. Look for example at the Sparklers made in DO Rías Baixas with the Albariño variety and, of course, look also at those made with Verdejo in DO Rueda.

The aroma profile of Palacio de Bornos Brut Nature, the driest style of Sparkling Wine, carries the usual panaderia, yeasty brioche notes that we expect from Fizz, but there is also the fragrance we know and love that is central to Verdejo. You’ll find delightful gooseberry and kiwi fruit notes, with a passing nod to the aroma of grapes too!

Then on the second phase you’ll be able to identify blanched almonds and a little scorched green herb in the mix. Hold the wine on the tongue and enjoy the tiny prickles as the bubbles move, invigorating the palate!

The Brut version, still made with 100% Verdejo, is similar, though you’ll also be able to identify the spritz that emanates from a green pepper as it’s sliced, with a lovely fennel seed aroma adding the herby nature of the wine. It’s still a dry wine, of course, but there are a few more grams of residual sugar per litre in the Brut version and this makes it a super partner to Asian, SE Asian, Chinese and Indonesian cuisine with, again, an endearing freshness.

Finally, for now, as I’ll be writing about other wines in the Taninia portfolio next week, a brief word about Palacio de Bornos Verdejo. There’s quite a pale, straw-yellow colour with some very light lime coloured notes too as the wine is poured into the awaiting glass.

The first thing you’ll notice, even without having to put your nose to the glass, is that give-away gooseberry/kiwi/fennel perfume that I guarantee will have you licking your lips in anticipation. Served chilled, but not too cold, the wine will be fresh in your mouth while it fills the taste-buds. Lovely, dry white wine!

Contact Colin: and via Twitter @colinonwine.

It’s also advisable to visit Colin’s website on a regular basis to see the events he organises, his articles, client comments and a lot more. Plus, if you join his e-mail list you will receive, direct to your computer/iPhone/iPad etc details of his wine tastings, wine pairing dinners, bodega visits etc. Just contact Colin!

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