One of the reasons few people outside of Spain have heard of, or at least drunk, Verdejo is that up until 30 or 40 years ago it was just too much of a pain in the arse to make into a fresh, dry, white wine. I think most Verdejo producers today would appreciate me saying that fact. Mostly cos it highlights how much work they put in to produce the modern style.
The biggest issue with Verdejo as a grape, or I suppose as grape juice, is that it’s really susceptible to oxidisation. You know like when you cut an apple, and after a couple of minutes it goes brown? Well that’s oxidisation. So back to Verdejo, in the past the techniques weren’t there to stop the oxidisation, so they just made a sherry-like drink from it.
Fast forward to the 1970s when pioneers from Rioja and France decided to try something new. They used anaerobic winemaking techniques (anyone remember their GCSE biology? Means oxygen free!), they harvested the grapes at night when it was cooler, and managed to keep the aromatics and the acidity for long enough to produce some really cracking dry, white wine.
The potential of Verdejo was realised, and before long the DO (national classification system) of Rueda was born (think 1980, something like that) to recognise white wines made from Verdejo (or at least Verdejo heavy blends).
Other Posts in NWTW Week 41: