2022 Bodegas Vatan, Rueda Verdejo "Nisia Las Suertes"
2022 Bodegas Vatan, Rueda Verdejo "Nisia Las Suertes"

2022 Bodegas Vatan, Rueda Verdejo "Nisia Las Suertes"

Rueda, Spain 2022 (750mL)
Regular price$40.00

2022 Bodegas Vatan, Rueda Verdejo "Nisia Las Suertes"

As Spanish wine regions go, Rueda isn’t one that inspires many oohs and aahs among wine critics and sommeliers. The main grape, Verdejo, can produce solid, workhouse wines with good acidity and minerality, but most of the wines are mass produced and are often indistinguishable from cheap, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Our assumption was nothing truly interesting was happening there. Well, we were dead wrong. In a far corner of the Rueda DOP the legendary pioneer of modern Spanish Wine, Jorge Ordóñez, discovered a vineyard of 150 year old, pre-phylloxera vines planted on an ancient, dry riverbed. From these gnarled behemoths (see the photo above!) Jorge and the team at Bodegas Vatan craft the “Nisia Las Suertes”, which is generally considered the greatest expression of Rueda ever made. Indeed we would not compare it to other Rueda, but to the top white wines of Sancerre, Burgundy, and California, albeit at a fraction of the cost. Why it took us so long to discover this wine is a mystery, but we’re extremely excited to share it with you today.

For most of its thousand year history Rueda has been a generally unknown and underappreciated wine region surrounded by more famous red wine regions, Toro and Ribera del Duero. It did gain some acclaim in the late 18th and 19th centuries, but that momentum was stopped cold when phylloxera wiped out two thirds of the vineyards. Replanting took place in the early 20th century, but as was the case in many places the emphasis was on the highest yielding, least fussy varieties such as Viura and Palomino, and the local grape Verdejo almost went extinct. Producing vast quantities of cheap white wine for the bars and cafés of Spain became the region's primary commercial focus. In the 1970s Àngel Rodríguez Vidal of Bodega Martinsancho reestablished Verdejo as the region’s top variety, and in 1980 DOP status was awarded.

Sadly, the push towards pure Verdejo wines of higher quality and lower quantity didn’t stick in most parts of Rueda. It turns out that if you use the right commercial yeasts and sterile filter immediately after fermentation, you can make a wine that tastes shockingly similar to cheap Sauvignon Blanc. Indeed you can actually use Sauv Blanc in blends and still qualify for the Rueda DOP. Jorge Ordóñez and the team at Bodega Vatan take the exact opposite approach.

First, and most importantly, is their source for Verdejo. The fruit comes from ancient, gnarled, bush trained vines that grow in the far corner of Rueda, close to the iconic city of Segovia. The commune is known as Santiuste de San Juan Bautista, and thousands of years ago it was actually part of the Duero river, when it was hundreds of miles in width. This means that soil here is extremely sandy and strewn with alluvial stones, which also means the phylloxera bug was never able to penetrate these vines. They date to around 1885, and these 150 plus year old, dry-farmed vines now produce the most concentrated, complex, and terroir transparent Verdejo in the world. 

That special, very old vines fruit is treated with every ounce of deserving respect in the cellar. After a brief cold soak for natural clarification, the juice is fermented in a range of barrels, mostly neutral, before aging in 500-600 liter French oak (again, mostly neutral) for at least seven months on the lees before bottling. No sterilization or filtration here, just great, old-school winemaking. Serve the “Nisia Las Suertes” in a nice Burgundy stem in order to accentuate its aromatic pedigree. A quick decant is helpful, and will awaken the full spectrum of quince, crisp pear, yellow apple, star jasmine, citrus blossom, grapefruit peel, and wet stones. The palate is medium-full, with a rich, oily texture that is balanced perfectly by a long, precise, mineral laden finish. Grand Cru Chablis or top tier Sancerre aged in barrels comes to mind, but the secret surprise is that “Las Suertes” costs much less than its profile suggests. I recommend roasting a whole chicken, Spanish style, inviting over a few friends and blowing their minds with this best in class Rueda!

2022 Bodegas Vatan, Rueda Verdejo "Nisia Las Suertes"

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