This D.O. is located between Valladolid and Segovia and next to Galicia. Penedés and Jerez (for sherry) are the best known areas for white wine in Spain. The grape varieties planted here are above all Verdejo, Viura and Sauvignon Blanc. The cultivation zone is located at an altitude of around 600 metres, although the vineyards of Segovia are located above 800 metres in altitude. It's precisely from there that we chose our Rueda wines.
This old winegrowing area has undergone a renaissance in recent years thanks to the rapid development it underwent after being given D.O. status in 1980. The terroir, located at the north of the high meseta, extends across a gently undulating landscape dotted with towns which played an important role in the history of Spain in the Middle Ages.
Extensive replanting of native grape varieties, especially Verdejo, have led to a new generation of fresh, young and very fruity wines which are also suited to cellaring.
Nowadays, nearly all the bodegas have stainless steel vinification equipment and, to prevent oxidisation, make use of nighttime machine harvesting with inert gas on the grapes during transport from vineyard to press.
D.O. Rueda and the city of the same name are located approximately 170 km to the northwest of Madrid in Castilla y León. This is a flat area at high altitude on the meseta with wide horizons and gently rolling hills. The vineyards can be found in three different areas: the majority are in Valladolid, but the rest are in Avila and Segovia. The Duero river flows from east to west through the northern part of the winegrowing area. The soil close to the river is loamy and alluvial with a limestone content of up to 24%. In the south, the topsoil is brown and sandy with a sandstone and clay subsoil. It drains well, is relatively iron-rich and is generally easy to work. The region has an altitude that varies from 600 to 780 metres.
Rueda has a continental and windy climate. The temperature dips well beneath freezing in the winter and heavy frosts, fog, storms and hail all occur. In the summer, the days are long and hot with lots of uninterrupted sun, although the temperature doesn't get quite as high as it does in the south of the meseta. Storms also occur.
Rain is an essential factor for the quality of the wine. It normally falls in the spring and autumn with the odd year when rainfall is sporadic and steady, making for an exceptional harvest. Incidentally, drought can occur at any time of year.
The most important grape varieties in the white wine vineyards are Verdejo (52%), Viura (22,5%) en Sauvignon Blanc (7%). There are three types of young white wine: Verdejo varietals with at least 75% Verdejo, which are called Rueda Superior, 100% Sauvignon Blanc varietals and Rueda Blanco, made from at least 40% Verdejo or Sauvignon Blanc. Verdejo wines have a distinctive, highly aromatic, lemon-grassy flavour and a good structure.
The D.O. Rueda rules also allow red wine to be made nowadays, with Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Garnacha all permitted. Although there is still some existing Palomino Fino (18%) in the area, it is forbidden to plant new vines of this variety.
The yields per hectare vary from a quarter to half of the permitted quantities. In most vineyards, vines are planted three metres apart so that they can be machine harvested. This has proved very important for raising quality, because it allows for a rapid nighttime harvest. Irrigation is allowed up to set dates (31 July in Avila and Valladolid and 15 Augustus in Segovia).
Sparkling wines (D.O. Rueda Espumoso) must be made with 40% Verdejo for semi-dry and semi-sweet wines and with 85% Verdejo for Brut and Brut Nature wines.
Rueda Palido and Rueda Dorado wines may both be made with any combination of permitted grape varieties.
Rosé and red wines as defined by the 2001 rules, must be made with respectively 50% black grape varieties (rosé) and 50% Tempranillo (red).
The light, fresh white wines for which Rueda is famed are made from grapes which are initially cooled beneath fermentation temperature and are then kept under gas throughout fermentation. They are pressed very gently and the nearly finished must is mixed with some pressed wine.