Now that the warm weather has well and truly arrived there is nothing more relaxing than sitting in the shade and sipping a glass of chilled white wine. The problem is which wine to choose? Spanish white wines are often disappointing. While there are many good quality Spanish red wines there is not the same number of interesting white wines, the reasons vary, but the main one is climate.
As a general rule, grapes for dry white wine prefer a cooler climate. For example the epitome of dry white wine , Chablis, made from the Chardonnay grape, comes from the cool north of France. The areas that produce the best Spanish white wine are where the climate is more temperate such as Galicia, or where altitude can compensate for high temperatures such as in the DO of Rueda.
One of the most consistent bodegas in this region and highly rated by connoisseurs, such as the UKs Oz Clarke, is Blanco Nieva. This excellent bodega is one of the highest (850m) in the denominacion and produces three main white wines.
The first is from the local grape variety called Verdejo; this excellent variety makes crisp, aromatic wines with a dry, delicate bitterness in the finish. Wine made from Verdejo is well worth a try, if you have not already done so and the wine is perfect on its own or to accompany salads, fish or white meat.
Bodega Blanco Nieva also make a unique Pie Franco from old vine Verdejo. (I should explain that Pie Franco means single vineyard and does not refer to a body part of the former dictator!) In fact the vineyards date from the 17th century and the grapes come from vines over 100 years old. The resulting wine is elegant, satisfying and delicious.
Apart from wines made from the local Verdejo grape Blanco Nieva makes wine from the international Sauvignon Blanc grape. Spanish wines made from Sauvignon Blanc differ significantly from their austere French or New Zealand counterparts. They are fresh, fruity, aromatic and bursting with a thirst-quenching flavour. For lovers of Sauvignon Blanc, the wines are a must try.
Now the really good news! Wines from Rueda are extremely good value for money as well as excellent quality. For example, all of the wines mentioned above receive 4 or 5 stars for price/quality relationship in the Guia Peñin 2006, Spains most comprehensive wine guide.
White wines from Rueda are a classic example of all thats good in Spanish wine making: tradition, good use of new technology, local and international grape varieties and excellent value for money. The quality of Spanish white wine is rapidly catching up with that of its reds. So the next time you unwind in the sun or the shade treat yourself to a chilled glass of Rueda, enjoy its aromas and flavours and smile because you definitely know your ABC of Spanish white wine!
Cheers! Salud! Prost! Skål! Proost! Santé! Slainte! Kippis!