Having recently revisited the wine region of Rueda in northwestern Spain, I find it easy to rank it among the most remarkable vineyard areas in the world. The older vines there resemble giant clenched fists the size of tree trunks. Planted on precipitous slopes, they emerge from rocks and sand, not from anything resembling soil, to produce super-concentrated white wine nectars full of rich fruit flavors and firm structure. The windswept region’s heart and soul is the noble but little-known verdejo grape, and these are three of the most authentic picks.
Nisia “Old Vines” Rueda, 2013
Pearlike and floral, its round, soft texture showcases a mellow fruit expression, hints of lemon peel and a touch of chalky minerality. This wine is ultra-versatile: Its exuberant acids complement raw shellfish, while it has sufficient “old vine” weight to balance a cold lobster salad.
$19, Winestone, Chestnut Hill
Shaya Rueda, 2012
This verdejo is another that originates from venerable vine stocks. It is slightly herbal and honeyed in scent, with a creamy texture and hints of nutmeg, melon and clove. A gentle, smooth middleweight wine, with a spicy mineral personality, it goes beautifully with paella.
$20, BRIX Wine Shop, South End
Ossian Rueda, 2010
Produced from organically grown grapes, the Ossian is full of honey and luscious ripe pear scents. Velvety on the palate, it has a concentrated melange of orange, green olive, lime and dried apricot flavors that evolve into a long, slightly bitter exotic spice finish. It matches best with grilled swordfish.