Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Man Who Saved Verdejo

One of the best bargains in the wine world must be the Verdejos of Angel Rodriguez. A bottle goes for about $16. Not bad for wine made by a legend who almost single-handedly saved a grape varietal.

Verdejo is everywhere these days, but it almost passed into history in the 1970s, when no one cared much about Spanish wine, let alone white Spanish grape varietals. Everyone was planting Viura for base commercial reasons. Rodriguez refused to pull up his historic, ungrafted, pre-phylloxera Verdejo vines in Rueda, even though yields were low and there was no money to be made. In fact, he planted more acres. Now, many vintners have follow Rodriguez's example and Verdejo is ascendant; many have even taken clippings from his Martinsancho vineyard.

That's a lot of history and quality for $16. I found the 2007 Martinsancho Verdejo a wonderful, pure thing with an incredible honeyed, floral, vegetal nose you can get lost in. It's like standing in the middle of a lovely scented Spanish field of blossoms and crops and breathing in the air. The palate begins waxy, acidic and citrusy, then yields to pear and honeycomb and green apple. The racy acidity keeps you alive. I drank my entire bottle in one sitting. There was no reason to stop.

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