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White Northern Spain under £10

And the winner is...

Baluarte Verdejo 2010, Bodegas Chivite, DO Rueda

Bodegas Chivite has been in business in Navarra since 1647, and it took a while for the company to venture out of its home turf – into Rioja with Viña Salceda in 1998 and since then elsewhere, including the DO pago Señorío de Arínzano in 2007 and now in Ribera del Duero and Rueda with Baluarte from 2008.

The chief executive is Fernando Chivite and he oversees winemaking at all the company’s bodegas, including the one in Rueda. ‘Baluarte’ means ‘bastion’ usually of traditional values, and Chivite is a living example after 365 years. The company has, however, in spite of its traditional philosophy, been very amenable to change, as its more recent activities demonstrate.

Baluarte Verdejo is a strikingly modern, fresh, example of Rueda, pure Verdejo from a challenging harvest – late, cool spring but hot summer and later harvest. At this stage the company is buying in grapes and using rented space in a winery in La Seca, as it were, ‘testing the water’ before investing in a new facility, which is likely to be some time in the future.

In the meantime the grapes are sourced from three areas of old vines – nothing younger than 50 years and some, from Segovia, of 120 years, ungrafted, pre-Phylloxera. These last have a rather different taste profile from modern vineyards, and contribute to the individuality of the wine.

The wines have already attracted attention in medal-winning quarters, and future developments begin to look very positive.

Written by John Radford

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