Godello whites are a fine choice to pair with winter cuisine 

click to enlarge godello grape
  • The godello grape nearly went extinct 40 years ago, but growers have resuscitated the full-bodied, rich grape that now flourishes on the Iberian Peninsula.
First grown by the Romans, godello grapes did not become widely known outside of western Spain until the mid-1990s. That was when I had my first taste of the white wine made by Viña Godeval in Valdeorras. Its founder, Horacio Fernandez Presa, along with Luis Hidalgo, helped resurrect this grape 40 years ago when it was nearly extinct. Over the past couple of decades, godello has hardly become a household name, but is no longer a complete anomaly and is now found in several regions of the northwestern Iberian Peninsula.

Though not as effusively aromatic as albarino, the most popular grape from this part of the world, godello has more body and richness and is often marked with yellow apple fruit, sometimes apple skin. It is a sponge for the minerals in soil, which are generally alluvial in Galicia. In Monterrei on the Portuguese border, the days are slightly warmer than in other parts of the region, usually softening the acidity a bit. Valdeorras has slate, often giving the wines a more delicate and sometimes angular texture. Godello is also found in Bierzo, the most western appellation of Castilla y Leon northwest of Madrid.

Sometimes oak is used, but as a rule, wood treatment is kept to a minimum or avoided, as it can easily mask nuances of the grape and terroir. As godello has more body than albarino, it is often a better wine at this time of year to match with the heavier winter cuisine.

Amizade Godello, 2010 (Monterrei, Spain): Gerardo Mendez, the winemaker at Do Ferreiro, one of the best albarino producers, makes Amizade with Tony Mendez, a local viticulturist in Monterrei. Mendez, a longtime grower, has pre-phylloxera vines that are more than 100 years old. With a dusty minerality, buttery undertones and a hint of apple, it has a unique character. Suggested retail: $17

Benaza Godello, 2011 (Monterrei, Spain) Composed of 80 percent godello, with the remainder being dona branca and treixadura, this is a fairly typical blend found in the white wines that straddle the Spanish-Portuguese border. It is not treated with any oak, but has extended lees time, giving it additional richness without masking the innate stony terroir. With a hint of banana peel, it also has unusual, though very tasty, fruit that when coupled with the minerality gives it a number of facets. Suggested retail: $18

Adega A Coroa Godello, 2012 (Valdeorras, Spain): A Coroa was started in 2002, but its owner, Angel Lopez, comes from a long line of viticulturists and supplied godello vines to many other producers before he took the plunge and started making his own wine. With an array of apple, kumquat and under-ripe apricot fruit, hints of chamomile, a dollop of white pepper and bright mineral underpinnings, this is one of the most complex wines made from godello you will try. Suggested retail: $20 Some of these wines can be found at Arlequin Wine Merchant, Bi-Rite Grocery and The Spanish Table.

Pamela S. Busch has been working in the wine industry since 1990 as a writer, educator and consultant and co-founded Hayes & Vine Wine Bar and Cav Wine Bar & Kitchen. In 2013, she launched TheVinguard.com.

About The Author

Pamela S. Busch

Bio:
Pamela Busch has been working in the wine industry since 1990 as a writer, educator and consultant and co-founded Hayes & Vine Wine Bar and Cav Wine Bar & Kitchen. In 2013, she launched TheVinguard.com.
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