Rueda (a denominación de origen in Castilla y León) produces some of my all-time favorite Spanish white wines. White ruedas are usually made with an ancient variety of grape called verdejo. A good rueda should be nearly-bone dry, with a very light astringency. The Spanish wine writer and mystery novelist Manuel Vázquez Montalbán even goes so far as to say that ruedas should have "a very light touch of bitterness." This may sound unappealing, and in fact some people (such as Ana's Aunt Lely) find ruedas to be too harsh. Others (like me) love them. The touch of astringency makes ruedas unusually refreshing. They go great with fish and salt cod dishes (and though I have not tried it, I bet a good rueda would be absolutely fantastic with rabbit). Also, ruedas offer a change of pace. Like many Spanish whites, they are the exact opposite of the heavy, peachy whites that seem to dominate the world wine market these days--only more so.
The other day Ana and I had a fantastic rueda, a Vevi 2011. It was everything a rueda should be. We had it with local-caught amberjack and steamed Florida lobster and it was out of this world.
It was less than $12 a bottle--not a bad price by rueda standards. It's made with a blend of verdejo and viura grapes. I used to think that the best ruedas were always %100 verdejo. This one proved me wrong.
This Naia 2009 for example is made with 100% verdejo, and it was pretty good--but not quite as dry as I think a rueda should be, and with riper fruit. (I liked the Vevi much better). I felt the same way about this Palma Real 2009. I suspect that both of these ruedas are toning down the dryness and that "very light bitterness" to suit mass market tastes, but by doing so they lose a lot of what makes ruedas special.
And then there are some ruedas out there that don't taste like ruedas at all, such as this El Hada, 2008. It's a fruity crowd pleaser, a rueda that sold out.
One day I hope to go to rueda and try some of the old-style "rancio" wines there, which are completely different from the new style ruedas I've described here. I'd also like to try some of rueda's reds.