Above The Rush Wines 2021 Verdejo – A Rare and Unique Wine
Background on Verdejo
Verdejo is a white wine grape that originated in North Africa and was transported to the Rueda region of Spain around the 11th century. Today approximately 47,000 acres (converted from hectors) are planted in Spain. The grapes are generally harvested at night with cooler temperatures to provide less oxidation or browning of the juice to provide the wine clarity.
Finding Verdejo produced in the USA is similar to finding Waldo! In the latest report from California Department of Food & Agriculture (April 2022), Verdejo is not even listed by acreage! In the report all 881,000 acres of grapes are detailed by acreage, Verdejo is not to be found. In researching I found a limited number of producers in Lodi, Yolo County, Sierra foothills and Clarksburg. Not to be confused Verdejo and Verdelho are two very different and distinct grape varieties.
2021 Above The Rush Wines Verdejo
This Verdejo from Above The Rush Wines in Vallecito, California is fairly classical of Spanish Verdejo in aroma and flavors. First on the eyes possessing a pale straw coloring and light viscosity. The wine from the color provides no clue what is follow in aromatics and flavors. On the nose, has a fruity, but not sweet aroma. The first whiff of Verdejo provides a grassy herbal scent similar to Sauvignon Blanc, but very constrained verses a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. A light citrus note of lime quickly follows the herbaceous qualities. On the palate, it requires a few sips to fully appreciate its’ traits and flavors. From honeydew to almonds each can be detected. It is bright with acidity and absolutely no sweetness! On the finish, minerality and stone fruit provide a distinct flavor which sets it apart from Sauvignon Blanc. A slight inherent bitterness can be found on the finish of this grape varietal, but is quickly overcome with food. The wine is a good match with seafood and pork dishes. So when wanting a white wine other than Chardonnay, Verdejo is a good and thoughtful alternative. Price is listed at $24/bottle.
The Food and Wine Pairing
Wanting to give this wine its full due, I had a glass at lunch with Maguro sashimi. The Maguro fish was a bit strong especially with the soy sauce, ginger and wasabi. When eaten plain, the taste and pairing was more enjoyable but a white sashimi would have proven better. Believe the best sashimi pairings with this Verdejo would be Hotate (scallops), Saba (Mackerel) and Hamachi (Yellowtail).
Then in the evening, it was paired with a chicken breast that was lightly glazed with mesquite spices. Then drizzled with Raspberry Chipotle sauce from Stewart & Jasper Orchards. Accompanied with rice and peas. The smokiness of the mesquite chicken and chipotle and the sweetness of the raspberry along with the dry and subtle fruitiness of the Verdejo provided a juxtaposition of flavors that were delightful in the mouth.
The conclusion of the tasting of Verdejo from lunch to dinner, is that Verdejo is a unique wine and one that food has to be carefully aligned with in order to appreciate its full potential. Will definitely try this again with Saba and Hamachi in the near future.