Hot summers, freezing winters and delicious wines
Spain's white wine region of Rueda is a high-altitude plateau north-west of the capital, Madrid. Hungry, stony soils subjected to torrid, hot summers with chilly nights and harsh freezing winters make growing conditions difficult for only the hardiest of plants.
The vine is a martyr amongst vegetation and performs best when suffering most. These unforgiving growing conditions produce Rueda's aromatic dry white wines, made mostly from Verdejo with 5pc plantings of Sauvignon Blanc and Viura (aka Macabeo) vines.
In style, Verdejo is refreshing and very aromatic, not unlike a grassy and green-appley Sauvignon Blanc. Its texture is waxy and oily with a rich and generous flavour similar to Sémillon. Its blending partners are Viura or Sauvignon Blanc to invigorate with mouth-watering acidity.
At 600m-800m, the sharp drop in the summer's night-time temperatures boosts the acidity and aromatics.
If the varietal's name is stated on the label as Rueda Verdejo or Rueda Sauvignon, then at least 85pc of that varietal makes up the blend.
1) Sauvignon 2013, Marques de Riscal, DO Rueda, Spain 13pc
Floral with elderflowers. Intense and delicious palate. Grassy and green apple skins, harmonious acidity and sappy green fruit ripple over the tastebuds. Serve with Thai crab cakes or grilled goats cheese on toast.
€14.49 nationwide at SuperValu; Londis; Centra; O'Brien's; Next Door Off -licences and Molloy's Taverns, Dublin citywide.
2) Verdejo 2012, Protos, DO Rueda, Spain 13pc
Pithy and zesty aromas. Rounded and smooth with lemony fruit and a long and zesty finish. Try with pork strips dusted with cumin and baked with plum tomatoes and olives.
€12.99 at 64 Wines, Glasthule; The Vintry, Rathgar; Drinkstore, Manor Street; Jus de Vine, Portmarnock; Gerry's of Skerries and La Touche, Greystones.
3) Verdejo 2013, Montespino, Avelino Vegas, DO Rueda, Spain 12.5pc
Perfumed with white flowers. An assertive salty palate with mineral and lemon juice and peel flavours. Serve with prawns and garlic in a cream sauce with pasta.
€13.99 in Dublin only at Anderson's Food Hall, Drumcondra; Martin's, Fairview; Thomas's, Foxrock; Deveney's, Rathmines and Morton's, Ranelagh.
4) Eylo 2013, Bodegas Elyo, DO Rueda, Spain 12.5pc
Ripe melon aromas. Invigorating citrus and stony mineral flavours. An overgrown garden finish of grass and nettles. Serve with white fish in a creamy onion sauce.
€14.99 at 1601, Kinsale; No. 21, Midleton; Next Door, nationwide; Lohan's, Salthill, Galway. In Dublin: On The Grapevine, Dalkey and Searson's, Monkstown.
5) Verdejo 2012, Finca Montepedrosso, DO Rueda, Spain 13pc
Scented with freshly squeezed lemons. Tingling lemon and lime with a jammy fruity curd. Useful on the table as an effective fat blaster, loving to wrestle with creamy, oily and buttery dishes.
€15.00 online at jnwine.com