A blog devoted to exploring wines made from unusual grape varieties and/or grown in unfamiliar regions all over the world. All wines are purchased by me from shops in the Boston metro area or directly from wineries that I have visited. If a reviewed bottle is a free sample, that fact is acknowledged prior to the bottle's review. I do not receive any compensation from any of the wineries, wine shops or companies that I mention on the blog.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Godello - Valdeorras, Spain

A few weeks ago, I was writing about a wine from the La Mancha region in Spain. In that post I mentioned that Spain, in general, is a very hot and dry country that relies on vine separation and elevated terrain in order to grow quality grapes. While that is true for the overwhelming majority of the land in the country, there is a small spot in Northwest Spain called Galicia that is the total opposite. Galicia is an autonomous community in Spain located just above Portugal. The culture here is more Celtic than Roman. They also have their own language, Galician, which is similar to Portuguese, and thus a Romance language, but which has many Celtic and Germanic features to it as well. In addition to being different from the rest of Spain culturally, Galicia is also very different climatically. The temperatures are mild here and it can be very rainy. In fact, if you look at a temperature and rainfall map of the country, the little portion in the northwest sticks out pretty noticeably.

Galicia is subdivided into four provinces which collectively are subdivided further into 53 comarcas, which are roughtly equivalent to counties here in the US. One of those comarcas is Valdeorras, located in the province of Ourense. The four provinces split Galicia pretty neatly into quadrants, and Ourense makes up the southwest quadrant, furthest inland and thus furthest from the Atlantic Ocean. Valdeorras is located on the Sil River, a 225 km tributary of the Miño river. The Sil has historically been important as a site for gold for the Romans (in fact, Valdeorras means "valley of gold). Once they had exhausted the gold supply, they planted vines on the riverbanks. The area was largely forgotten between the Middle Ages and the modern era, but has been coming on strong since the 19th century.

Godello is a native grape here. Plantings had been in a steady decline for a very long time until the 1970's when it became the focus of a new experimental planting campaign. There are 2,200 acres under vine as of 2004. Godello, like most grapes, has a laundry list of synonyms. Those interested can feel free to peruse the list here. It is thought that Godello is the same grape as Gouveio in Northern Portugal.

I picked my bottle up at a little liquor store in Brookline whose name I don't remember at all. MonteNovo is the producer, 2008 was the vintage and the price tag was $15. In the glass, the wine had a rich yellow straw color. The nose was a bit reserved, but there was lemon cream, lemon peel, ripe apples and pears. It was fairly full bodied with medium plus acidity. It was fairly neutral on the palate with some lemon peel and lots of stony minerality but still a bit creamy. I had to work pretty hard to get anything definitive out of this wine; the aromas and flavors are pretty understated here. My summation in my notes says it reminds me of a slightly less acidic dry chenin blanc but with a fuller, creamier mouthfeel. It does have a nice balance of body and minerality, which can be pretty difficult to find. I find a lot of white wines with this kind of heft on the palate can be kind of fat and oily tasting but the nice acid and the minerality keeps this from going down that road. If you're looking for something that is explosively perfumed and flavored, you'll want to give this a pass, but if you're in the market for a clean, full-bodied white wine, you should definitely give this one a shot.

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