Hot weather finds me craving a cold, pale, white that smells gently of pears, grapefruit and white flowers, not aggressively aromatic, but cut through with the kind of razor sharp, refreshing citrus acidity and salty minerality that makes you salivate.
Chablis? I hear you say. Sort of ‘esque’ but considerably cheaper at around £13 retail.
Rueda is the only white wine DO in Castilla y Leon, and its fennelly freshness comes from a distinctly chilly climate and the austere gravelly soils of the high plateau, where most of the vines for the indigenous Verdejo grape – not to be confused with the Verdelho of Portugal – originate.
Angel Rodriguez Vidal only makes one wine, and this is it! Martinsancho has been in his family since 1784 and his almost single handed resurrection of Verdejo was recognized by King Juan Carlos of Spain. Unlike most of Rueda, his vines are bush trained, rather than wire trained, which keep yields very low, with just a few bunches per vine, giving intense flavour as well as precluding mechanical harvesting. Unusually for Spain, the cellars are deep underground, goose-pimply cold and the wine spends a considerable time on its lees.
The label’s a bit dull I grant you – a funky one would help silence any non believers – but its what’s inside that counts and with only around 2000 bottles per vintage you don’t want everyone getting their grubby little mitts on it!
Stone and orchard fruits, a touch of fennel, herbs and rhubarb, a Chablis-esque pebble sucking dryness and punchy acidity of vivacious purity.
As my wife said, in one of her less eloquent moments, “This beats the c**p out of Oyster Bay”!