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Verdelho and Verdejo: What's the difference?
“Verdelho” and “Verdejo” sound strikingly similar, but are they the same? You may know either (or both) terms from reading wine labels, but how much do you really know? Is “Verdelho” just another word for “Verdejo”, or is there more to it? Browsing wine shops or online wine sites, you might have come across a Portuguese (or even Australian) Verdelho wine, or a Verdejo wine from Spain. Is this simply a matter of linguistics, one being merely a translation of the other? If you don’t know the answer, worry not. You’re not alone, and we’re here to help.
Spoiler alert: They’re different! Verdelho and Verdejo are two distinct and unrelated wine grape varieties.
Verdelho vs. Verdejo
To understand the difference between the two, let’s think in terms of geography for a moment.
The Verdelho grape is native to the island of Madeira, home of the fortified wines of the same name. Wines made from Verdelho, either as a blending component or single varietal, are produced in Madeira, mainland Portugal, Australia and beyond.
Verdejo, on the other hand, is best known in the white wines of the Rueda region in Spain. Depending on how the wine is labelled, there are particular requirements for the percentage of Verdejo used in the blend of Rueda wine.
What does Verdelho wine taste like?
What Verdelho tastes like will depend on the style of Verdelho wine you’ve got and where it has come from:
The grape is best known in Madeira wines, where it is one of the so-called noble grapes. Verdelho Madeira is a fortified wine with between 27 and 45 grams per litre of residual sugar. Tasting this style of wine, you’ll be struck by its smokiness and high levels of acidity, as well as the sweetness from the sugar content.
Australian Verdelho, best in the McLaren Vale, is a dry white wine. It may be young and simple, or undergo barrel fermentation or ageing. The varietal characteristics to expect include exotic fruits, lime and honeycomb.
What does Verdejo wine taste like?
So, we know Verdelho. What about Verdejo? Far from being simply a Spanish translation of the word “Verdelho”, this one is distinctive in its own right. Verdejo is at home in Spain’s Rueda region, where it produces wine in a number of styles:
Rueda Verdejo is legally obliged to contain a minimum of 85% Verdejo grapes. More commonly, this wine will be a pure Verdejo varietal. The wines are profoundly aromatic, fruity and with notes of fennel.
Rueda, when labelled as such, must contain a minimum of 50% Verdejo. As a result, the Verdejo characteristics are less prominent and the wine is less aromatic, quite fresh and smooth on the palate.
Rueda Espumoso is a sparkling wine from Rueda that may have different percentages of Verdejo grapes depending on the labelling. It is made using the traditional Champagne method, and is a very fruity and smooth bubbly.
Which do you prefer: Verdelho or Verdejo? Tell us below!