Excellent wineries from hot regions produce refreshing wines for consumers like Rincon de Pedraza’s El Hada Verdejo-Viura 2007.
Spain is a summer destination for northern Europeans because of its warm climate. This weather has culinary and wine attractions, too. Fish and vegetables are favored; and young, fresh, crisp wines preferred. It was on a sultry day like that when I tasted the 2007 El Hada Verdejo-Viura.
The Rincon de Pedraza winery is located in Rueda, part of the Castilla and Leon wine region, about 350 miles northwest of Madrid. Rueda’s fame as a first-rate white wine area is recent and owed to the daring, ironically, of Spain’s great Rioja producer, Marquis de Riscal. In 1972, this intruder from another region made a white wine from the Verdejo grape that changed everything in Rueda winemaking.
Verdejo is an indigenous Rueda grape. Before 1972, it was made in wood barrels or blended with the inferior Palomino grape, yielding awful wines. El Hada is a post-1972 wine. Founded in 1988, Rincon de Pedraza uses the three important white wine grapes of Rueda: Verdejo, Viura and the newly arrived Sauvignon Blanc.
Winemaker and owner Jose Maria Vegas employs the modern winemaking of Rueda for his El Hada wines. He ferments the Verdejo and Viura grapes in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks and holds the wine there until bottling. This procedure protects the juice from oxygen and the searing heat of the region, retaining the wine’s crisp acidity and natural flavors.
Made with equal parts of Verdejo and Viura, the 2007 El Hada is clear white with thyme and mild citrus aromas. Medium-bodied, the clean lemon-thyme and mineral flavors of Verdejo is given an added dimension with Viura’s mellow guava-like taste, resulting in a pleasing, complex wine with refreshing acidity.
Recently, there has been a reintroduction of oak aging by some Rueda producers. My palate finds this to be a mistake. The essence of flavorful wines like the 2007 El Hada Verdejo-Viura is its balance of fruit and acidity with a lightness that lifts summer’s heat. Oak aging only adds heaviness to the palate. It’s like replacing lemonade with hot chocolate.
Pour a glass of the 2007 El Hada Verdejo-Viura with crab cakes, oysters, lobster steamed or grilled, sushi and sashimi, seafood salad — especially one seasoned with chopped fresh basil — or a plate of grilled garden vegetables. You’ll see how delicious this fresh, well-made white wine is.
And the price allows you to put as many bottles of the 2007 El Hada Verdejo-Viura on the table as you like without breaking into a sweat.
The 2007 El Hada Verdejo-Viura retails for about $12.