Monte Blanco: The grapesRamon Bilbao sources its Verdejo grapes from a dedicated group of winegrowers in the Rueda subregions of Serra, Pozaldez and Rueda Medina. These winegrowers have a combined 280 hectares of vineyard land within the Rueda region. Interestingly, grape harvest takes place exclusively at night time, the low temperatures protecting the grapes from the elements and the threat of oxidation. The vintages since have gone from strength to strength and Monte Blanco has become a well established brand name in its own right, as well as an important part of the Ramon Bilbao portfolio.
Monte Blanco: The winemakingMonte Blanco wine is made at the winery site at the town of Serrada. The fresh grape juice is cooled quickly and fermentation begins within two to three days. Quality control is of paramount importance. Physical movement of the wine is kept to a minimum, though nitrogen is used when moving the juice in order to prevent oxidation. The winery operates by gravity, minimising the need for excessive pumping.
Monte Blanco: The wineHere, we’ve got a dry white wine: Ramon Bilbao Monte Blanco is a 100% Verdejo varietal wine. It has an inviting, brilliant golden colour with hints of lemon. Going in closer, it offers a seriously fragrant nose - not atypical for Verdejo in the Rueda region - with notes of tropical fruits, fresh passion fruit, anise and a fennel character. On the palate, there is plenty of tropical fruit and there is a very pleasant weight on the mouth. Medium-bodied even in its youth, this wine will be equally at home with a Sunday roast as it will with a simply prepared white fish.
Monte Blanco: The awardsWinemakers like to think that the quality of their wine speaks for itself, but it’s always nice for that to be reaffirmed by an objective third party. For Monte Blanco, this has come in the form of multiple awards, including:
- Best Rueda Wine in the Gourmet Wine Guide 2013
- Best Wine €5-€10 in the Gourmet Wine Guide 2013
- Best Spanish White Wine at the La Nariz de Oro (“The Golden Nose”) competition 2010
Monte Blanco: What to try instead?So, you’ve tried Monte Blanco before and you’ve heard all about it already? Good for you, you’re ahead of the game: Let’s build on that! If you like Monte Blanco, let’s assume that you like the Verdejo grape, particularly as expressed in the Rueda region. Luckily, Rueda is rich with other top quality producers making some very special wines indeed. Try any of the following and you shouldn’t be disappointed:
- Marqués de Riscal Verdejo, like Monte Blanco, is a Rueda white from a big name producer best known for Rioja wines. Grassy and herbaceous nose with a creamy palate.
- Shaya, from Bodegas y Viñedos Shaya, comes highly recommended from Guía Peñín, with an impressive 92-point score. Old vines and some ageing on lees give this wine some real character.
- Finca La Colina Verdejo is another young Verdejo with a high score from Guía Peñín, an excellent 93 points. The winery, Bodega Vina Sanz, has a winemaking history dating back to 1870, yet the wine is profoundly fresh and aromatic.