Today it’s a lovely wine I’ve had by the glass a few time in the last month, and which has never failed to please, the Telmo Rodríguez Basa Blanco Rueda 2010. This is my third Spanish white in this blog, and I put it down to the time of year. It’s hottest in this part of the world right about now, and while I do love a bit beefy Chardonnay, it’s at times like these that I look for a white that’s a bit lighter. This one absolutely fits the bill.
It hails from Rueda, which is in the northwest quadrant of Spain, though closer to Madrid at the center than to the coast. Rueda traditionally is exclusively a white wine region, historically making a fortified wine in the style of Sherry. In 1980 though it was awarded Denominación de Origen status in recognition of a huge shift from exclusively Palomino-based fortified wines to also producing a table wine based largely on Verdejo, Viura (Macabeo), and Sauvignon Blanc. Rueda DO must be at least 50% Verdejo, or a Sauvignon Blanc varietal, while Rueda Superior must be at least 85% Verdejo. Red and rosé wines are now also permitted within their own DO rules, in the form of Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Garnacha (Grenache).
The region as a whole is at 700-800 metres elevation, and is generally composed of flat highlands. The climate is considered continental, with long, cold winters and hot, dry summers. Even during the summer, the evenings get very cool, with high diurnal temperature variation, allowing ripening during the days but preserving acidity in the evening. Traditionally, levees were built around vines to collect water which were then half-buried to preserve moisture, though that practice has largely been replaced by more modern water management techniques.
The soils are sandy and stony, with more gravel in the better areas. Limestone outcroppings can be found throughout the region, in particular with clay along the river Duero which cuts through the north of the region.
This wine is a blend of 85% Verdejo, 12% Viura and 3% Sauvignon Blanc. I’m sure I’ll have varietal Viuras and Sauvignon Blancs aplenty at some point, so today it’s all about Verdejo. First off, it is apparently not the same as Verdelho, which is a bit confusing for me as I just figured it was a Spanish/Portuguese spelling difference. In fact, I’m hard pressed to find any evidence of it being grown anywhere in the world other than Spain, and really within Spain its home is certainly Rueda. It’s an aromatic white, though prone to oxidation under traditional winemaking, which is one of the reasons it was used in oxidatively handled fortified wines rather than in table wine. However, now with such modern techniques of picking at night and temperature controlled fermentation (and refrigeration of the grapes/must/wine in general) it is possible to make it into wine that retains the fresh, aromatic characters.
Telmo Rodríguez is a celebrated Spanish winemaker of great renown. The company he runs, along with his partner Pablo Eguzkiza, was founded in 1994 with the intention of making great wine from native Spanish varieties. In addition to this wine in Rueda, he makes another which is 100% Verdejo, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. His company makes 20 wines across nine different regions of Spain, covering the entire country. Production ranges from 3,252 bottles of Pegaso Garnacha in Castilla y León to this Basa of which I drank one of 600,000 bottles.
I can’t get my head around what 600,000 bottles would look like, all in one place, 50,000 cases doesn’t help. 781 pallets is still too many to imagine. However, I think many winemakers would be lucky to be able to make one bottle of wine as lovely as this one.
It’s pale lemon in the glass, with fresh pear on the nose, with some lemon and honey to back it up. On the palate it has crisp, but not overly zingy, acidity. It has a medium body, and medium length, and the palate absolutely matches the nose with a pear finish. It’s bright enough to cut through spicy food without burning through your gums if you drink it without food. It’s not overly complex, but nor is it overly pretentious or expensive. A great summer drop, but probably not one to cellar.
The pin in the map is the company address, which unfortunately is not so close to where this wine is made, but given that they make wine throughout Spain in so many different regions, it’s at least in the right country.