About this WINE
Telmo Rodriguez is one of the greatest of Spanish winemakers. In a fashion not dissimilar to Alavaro Palacios, Telmo travelled and learnt for many years before returning home to Rioja, where he has improved yet further the quality of a wine that was already outstanding. In addition he supervises négociant projects throughout Spain. One of his most acclaimed projects is in Ribera del Duero.
The charismatic Telmo has something of the prodigal about him, having now returned to his Riojan homestead to energise the great house of Remelluri. One should not overlook, however, his other properties, which explore some of the lesser known areas of Spain and in each case seek to make superlative and characterful wines. Ribera del Duero is, of course, far from a lesser-known area, so it is to Telmo’s great credit, but to no–one’s particular surprise, that the wines he makes at Matallana are amongst the very best here too.
The wine region of Rueda is located south and west respectively of the famous and historically fecund cities of Valladolid and Segovia.
Rueda lies on a limestone plateau, to the south-west of the red wine powerhouse DO of Ribera del Duero, producing wines more stylistically akin to its neighbours in Galicia rather than Toro, that is to say more inclined to white and aromatic styles than red and weighty. Rueda has had a chequered history, vinously speaking.
Its tendency in the early days (and by early days we can go back to medieval times) was to produce fortified wines, made with Palomino; in other words to imitate Sherry, but not necessarily the quality or the success of Sherry. When Sherry fell into a completely unjustifiable parlous state in th early 1990s, commercially speaking, Rueda decided that the time was ripe for reinvention.
Its indigenous grape, the charismatic but sometimes temperamentall Verdejo, , is prone to oxidation and a lack of freshness, unless made in a thoroughly modern fashion in inert conditions. When made thus, the wines can be completely charming, combining pleasing aromatics, citric and grapefruit notes and a concentration and viscosity, energy and length. Sometimes it is combined with Macabeo and even Sauvignon Blanc, the former to lend weight, the latter, aromas. Ultimately, however, it stands up in its own right and has been entirely responsible for the current reappraisal of this once moribund region.
One of Spain's higher quality white grape varieties which languished in obscurity for several hundred years before being rediscovered 15 years ago. It is a native grape of Rueda in North-west Spain and is now its principal white grape variety. It is most successfully cultivated in high altitude vineyards where the soils are calcareous and well drained.
Previously Verdejo-based wines were worryingly prone to premature oxidation. However techniques including night-time harvesting, cool fermentation and the use of an inert gas blanketing have led to the delicate and youthful aromatic freshness of the wines being preserved. It is often blended with Sauvignon Blanc to add body and richness to Sauvignon's aromatic lift. Its finest manifestation is Rueda Superior, which must contain a minimum of 85% Verdejo.
Typically Verdejo dominated wines are crisp with soft, creamy, nutty overtones, and sometimes accompanied by notes of honey. Arguably Spain's finest white grape variety.