Oro de Castilla Verdejo
Oro de Castilla is a wine made by Bodegas Hermanos del Villar in the Rueda DO region. Made in a classic style which showcases the bright, fresh and mineral flavors of the Verdejo grape, this wine has been called “a textbook Verdejo” by renowned wine critic Josh Raynolds of Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar. Oro de Castilla means “the Gold of Castile” in English. Mr. Raynolds isn't the only one; many people consider Oro de Castilla a reference point Verdejo. In its certification class for SWE (Spanish Wine Educator), The Spanish Wine Academy presents Oro de Castilla as a “best example” Verdejo for its section on the Rueda region. This wine's exceptional quality is rooted in two characteristics that make this vineyard unique in the region and impart a distinctive brightness and minerality. It is located at a high elevation, overlooking the town of Rueda, planted in a bed of river stones covering a limestone subsoil. The vines are among the oldest in the region, with deep root systems that penetrate the limestone and mineral subsoils. Oro de Castilla is best enjoyed when it is young, for it is a wine that is all about the youth and bright, lively flavors of the Verdejo grape.
WHAT MAKES THIS WINE UNIQUE? Stirring of the lees (batonnage) is a technique used to enrich the wine during ageing in stainless steel tanks. The river stones in the vineyards create a better equilibrium of ripeness during Rueda's cool nights. Fermented utilizing the grapes own indigenous yeasts. Nighttime harvesting maintains freshness and minimizes oxidation.
RATING HISTORY: 2015 90VM; 2013 90IWC; 2012 90IWC; 2011 90IWC; 2009 90IWC; 2007 90IWC
GRAPE: 100% Verdejo. Organically grown vines planted from 1989 - 2009. Tended in sandy and river stone soil at 719 m (2,359ft) elevation. This is a vegan wine.
PAIRING SUGGESTIONS: The grassy, fresh, citrus aroma and flavor profile is quite similar to Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire, except that with Oro de Castilla there's also a firm minerality that recalls the best examples of Sancerre. A great pair would be sockeye salmon, Mahi Mahi or flounder simply pan fried in a beurre blanc, or plank roasted. Salads with grilled chicken, asparagus or toasted almonds would also pair well, as well as soft, ripe cheeses.
VINIFICATION AND AGEING: Harvest takes place during the cool night hours to maximize the aromatic expression of the Verdejo grape. The de-stemming process takes place in the vineyard. At the winery, the unfermented juice is kept at a cold temperature to avoid oxidation and a slow fermentation is employed utilizing the natural yeasts in the grapes. After fermentation, there is no malolactic fermentation in order to retain the wine's fresh acidity. The wine is aged in stainless steel tanks for 3 months, with daily stirring of the lees (batonnage) to enhance the texture and mouthfeel of the wine. After ageing, the wine is filtered and bottled.
PRODUCTION: 10,000 cases
LOCATION, SOIL, CLIMATE: The vineyards are located in the town of Rueda within the Rueda DO (Zone 2) in northwestern Spain, southwest of Ribera del Duero. At 719 meters (2,359 ft.) elevation, the bodega's vineyards have a unique soil profile distinct from other vineyards in the region. A deep layer of river stones and sand provides good drainage and a healthy, dry environment for the grapes to ripen. The subsoil is composed of limestone and clay, which retains moisture for the vines, especially during the dry, active growing season. The soils are excellent at retaining heat, which keeps the vines warm and continues the ripening process through the cool nights. The soil is poor in organic matter and encourages low vigor and low yields, both of which result in grapes with superior aroma and flavor intensity. For climate, the area's average temperature from April-October is 61.4F. Here, the Continental climate is characterized by cold nights, hot days and dry conditions due to moderately low rainfall (16.4 inches) per year. These conditions give the grapes a longer ripening period. The higher altitude ensures cooler nights, a key to retaining acidity in the grapes. The resulting wines are fresh and crisp, with greater complexity and aromatic intensity. In Rueda, temperatures are slightly warmer and there is lower rainfall than Ribera del Duero. The harvest in Rueda usually takes place in early September.
TASTING NOTES: Light bright yellow. Aromas of Meyer lemon and green apple are accented by suggestions of chalky minerals and sea salt. Dry and racy on the palate, offering lively citrus fruit and fresh fig flavors and a subtle touch of tarragon. Closes on a juicy note, featuring resonating stoniness and very good focus and length. -- Josh Raynolds.
All photos: Friederike Paetzold