Originally from Germany, Ortega grape found its second home in England. This white variety can withstand English weather and is capable of making charming aromatic still wines.
Even though nowadays Ortega wine is largely associated with England, the grape itself was born in Germany. Ortega was developed in 1948, by crossing two other German varieties, Müller-Thurgau and Siegerrebe. The name of the new grpae, Ortega, was chosen in honour of the Spanish poet and philosopher, José Ortega y Gasset.
At first, Ortega was planted in Mosel and Pfaltz regions of Germany. There it proved to be a perfect variety for colder climates. Indeed, Ortega is resistant to frost, it ripens early, before the autumn rains start. In addition, it gains high sugar levels while maintaining low to moderate acidity. These features made Ortega a popular grape in England where it was first planted in the early 1970s. Today, Ortega is often used for still wine production in the country.
Aromas And Styles
Fruity and aromatic, Ortega is sometimes compared to Muscat. Just as the latter, Ortega wine is seductively sweet on the nose, with charming scents of flowers and ripe stone fruits. Very often, Ortega wine also shows a notable spicy character which adds a nice kick to the overall sweetness of the flavours. Humble acidity of this grape is compensated by a medium body and plenty of flavours on the nose and on the palate. Interestingly, in some parts of Germany Ortega grape is still used to supplement Riesling in poor vintages, adding complexity and weight to the wines. In England, Ortega makes aromatic still wines, as a solo grape or as part of the blend with other local varieties.