People celebrated or cried for all sorts of reasons after the fall of the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, but wine lovers have special reason to rejoice: Franco’s death in 1975 signaled the rebirth of the centuries-old but by then stagnant Spanish wine industry.
Nowhere is that renaissance more evident than in the Rueda denomination of origin, where the tough but ebullient verdejo grape has come gloriously into its own over the past few decades.
This grape now produces a very modern, clean and crisp white wine sold in this country at a highly attractive price, making it a perfect summer sipper as well as an admirable food wine.
One that is readily available here—I picked it up at Whole Foods Market downtown for $10.99—is the 2009 Naia Rueda Verdejo from Bodegas Naia, whose stony, high and dry vineyards are strung along the hilly left bank of the Duero River.
Its nose is very light, yielding barely a hint of herbs and meadow flowers. But right up front this wine unleashes a tsunami of harmonious flavors dominated by grapefruit, white peach and green grass with a zingy lime kicker. Peach is big through the mid-palate, and a sniff of white pepper chimes in on the medium-long ultraclean finish. The effect is refreshing verging on bracing, making this verdejo a superb palate cleanser. Drink it well chilled by itself or pair it with cold tapas or chilled shellfish.
Naia Rueda Verdejo