Sauvignon Blanc - The Future of Rueda?

Rueda Sauvignon Blanc

Rueda is a region best known for its white wines, achieving huge success both in the Spanish domestic market, where Rueda Verdejo outsells Albarino, and international markets where the region’s wines offer consumers a light, fresh, fruity style at affordable prices.

Historically grape production in the region has been focused around Verdejo, with grapes such as Viura, Palamino and Sauvignon Blanc playing second fiddle.  

However, times are changing as producers are slowly beginning to discover the area’s ability to produce excellent Sauvignon Blanc, driven in part by a desire to grow a grape with greater consumer recognition than Verdejo.

At a recent visit to Agricola Castellana, the top notch cooperative that produce our Cuatro Rayas wines, we were given an overview of Castellana’s production and the investment they have made in Sauvignon Blanc over the last 10 years.

The Castellana team are very open about the challenges of growing Sauvignon in the region. Rueda’s continental climate means that there can be huge variations between daytime and night time temperatures making it difficult to produce a consistent style. Whilst the local Verdejo is a reliable performer, the early years of Rueda Sauvignon show a greater degree of vintage variation.

Finance is another challenge for the region when it comes to expanding Sauvignon production. Replanting takes time and money and Rueda is far from being the richest region in Spain. It is notable that some of the largest investments in growing Sauvignon have come from producers linked to big players in Rioja and Bordeaux.

Castellana are one of the few producers with a track record of growing Sauvignon. They first planted the grape back in the early 1990s and most of their vines are now aged twenty years or more. Despite over two decades of experience with Sauvignon, it took Castellana until 2008 to take the plunge and bottle a wine made solely from the grape. Previously it had been used purely as in blends.

The critical response has been very positive since Castellana’s first 100% Sauvignon Blanc was launched. The third vintage picked up the Golden Bacchus award from the Spanish Association of Professional Wine Tasters, the Gold Manojo prize at The Manojo Awards in Spain and a Silver medal at The International Wine Challenge. Not a bad haul for a wine that retails for under £10.

Guillermo Perez Valle, Commercial Director of Cuatro Rayas, said that over the last three years demand for their Sauvignon Blanc has grown steadily and he believes with increased promotion there is no reason why Rueda Sauvignon Blanc cannot be as popular as wines such as Albarino with UK consumers.

Check out the video of Guillermo Perez Valle talking about why he thinks Rueda Sauvignon Blanc is so special.

Rob Pickard
3rd November 2010

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