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The Godello Grape

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About Godello

(Synonyms: Agodello, Agodenho, Agudanho, Agudelha, Agudelho, Agudello, Agudelo, Agudenho, Berdello, Godelho, Godella, Godenho, Ojo de Gallo, Trincadente.)


Map showing the Galicia province of Spain

Godello is a white-wine grape originating in the northwest of Spain, probably from the province of Galicia (just north of Portugal); it is said to reach its acme in the small Valdeorras appellation within Galicia, and does not seem to be grown much elsewhere (though it may be that some Portugese plantings under another name are also really Godello).

Godello is another modern "rescue project": by the 1970s, the grape was nearly extinct, but a couple of enthusiastic advocates brought it to world attention with striking renditions, and it is today a major player in Spain and, increasingly, on the world stage. Godello is now one of Spain's two premier white wines, sitting beside Albariño in that capacity.

Because it is still a developing effort, the wines can be found in quite a variety of styles (not unlike Chardonnay, to which some compare it). One key difference in styles (again as with Chardonnay) is the presence or absence of oak in the vinification: steel-tank Godellos tend to have, as one writer puts it, "a fresher, livelier quality", with more minerality and forward fruit; oak-aged Godellos tend, in that same critic's words, to be "richer, fuller wines", often with the "creamy" quality that comes of lees contact. The difference may be more a matter of personal taste than of better/worse, though not a few wine writers have expressed a clear preference for the unoaked versions (though others much prefer the oak). One regional winemaker remarked that he, too, prefers the unoaked style, but also makes an oaked version just for the American market. So.

The essence of Godello (or at least unoaked Godello) seems to be minerality and acidity, but the extra that distinguished it from many other serviceable varieties with those qualities is a richness of fruit and wildflower flavors and a somewhat denser body than the usual all-mineral white wine.

Note that Godello is sometimes confused with Verdelho, which is a different grape, but was (and is) a name sometimes used for Godello, and also the Portugese Gouveio, because Gouveio was often used as a name for true Verdelho (yes, the world is a funny old place).

Factoid: Pliny the Elder, writing in the first century, described a widely grown Spanish grape that may well have been Godello.

Some Descriptions of Godello Wines

Some Godellos to Try

(About this list.)

While there are numerous Godellos available, when we winnowed down by quality, price, and availability, the list shrank considerably.

The quotations below are excerpts; we strenuously urge you to click on the green diamond symbol by each quoted review to see the full article.
Rafael Palacios "Louro do Bolo" Godello
(Palacios bottles several Godellos: this is the "Louro do Bolo" bottling.)

• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• This wine's CellarTracker review pages.
• This wine's Wine Searcher "Tasting Notes" page.

Some quotations and facts about this wine:

The colour is bright medium-yellow and it smells creamy and nutty with a touch of spicy oak among the yeasty lees-derived aromas. Soft, rich and intense in the mouth, with density and fleshy texture. A rounded, generously flavoured white.

One of the undisputed Kings of Godello production, winemaker Rafael Palacios has crafted a Godello to rival the finest white wines of the world. Vinified and matured in oak foudre from Normandy, this example from the Valdeorras region shows great complexity, elegance and finesse. Expect tropical fruit, a smooth texture and a smoky finish!

♣ Wine Advocate (June 2011), 91 points.
♣ International Wine Cellar (September 2012), 92 points.
The 2010 Louro is 100% Godello aged for 5 months in foudre. Fragrant minerals, fennel, and white fruits lead to a creamy textured, richly fruity palate. Impeccably balanced and very lengthy, it is an outstanding value that will provide pleasure for another 3-4 years. Rated An outstanding wine of exceptional complexity and character.

Pale yellow. Bracing aromas of pink grapefruit, lemon zest, white flowers and anise. Dense, lively and penetrating, with racy acidity sharpening citrus and pear flavors. Stony, uncompromising and pure, with very good finishing lift and cut.

I was struck by the vibrancy of the wine, with its complex, well-knit layers of savory mineral, lightly toasted and fresh herbs, beeswax and citrus on a firm structure. 90 points, non-blind. Deeply glad that I was able to concentrate for the first time all night, I kept coming back to my glass to study the aromas and flavors. Godello can produce fascinating wines worth checking out if you find them, and this one showed that, when done right, looking back to the past can carry you well into the future.

I rated the 2007 vintage of this Spanish wine in 2009, and almost 4 years later, this wine remains one of my favorite whites. .  This wine shows both the complex and friendly sides of Godello: round, lemon, slightly tropical fruit, but with great acidity and just enough oak smoke for some complexity. . . Louro do Bolo, [as compared to the same maker's As Sortes Godello], offers glimpses into greatness, but in a much more approachable and friendly package! It is made from grapes from slightly less older vines than the As Sortes and is fermented and aged in large-format foudres, giving only a subtle oak complexity. This wine is steely enough to go with seafood, yet has some roundness, smoke, complexity that makes it easy to go with so much more! Try it with some mussels in a robust sauce…it’s one of my favorites with big cheeses. It’s a lot of wine for the price and can be found in Spain for 12 euros and in the US from about 16 dollars on up…what a steal!

The color is an attractive pale yellow, and the nose is rife with notes of mineral and citrus. This wine has been given exceedingly high marks by a number of critics—and for very good reasons. On the palate, it is a beautifully balanced, fresh and vibrant, tantalizing the senses with a vivid intensity and strong, lingering finish. And, priced at a mere $18.99, the 2009 Louro Do Bolo Godello is also an outstanding value. Stock up while you can.

The 2011 Louro do Bolo, another 100% Godello (aged 5 months in foudre), is slightly more candied and minerally as well as less seductive than the less expensive Sabrego. While it may be a more serious effort, it is also more austere and less charming. Nevertheless, it is very good and well worth trying, particularly at this price.

Godeval "Cepas Vellas" Godello
(Don't confuse this "Cepas Vellas" bottling with any of their other Godello bottlings.)

• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• This wine's CellarTracker review pages.
• This wine's Wine Searcher "Tasting Notes" page.

Some quotations and facts about this wine:

Light, green-tinged yellow. A complex, intensely perfumed bouquet evokes fresh Meyer lemon and tangerine, lifted by a potent mineral topnote and a hint of jasmine. The citrus fruit and mineral flavors show excellent focus and depth but zero fat, with a hint of iodine emerging slowly. Emphatically mineral-dominated on the long, focused finish. 92 points. [Vinous]

This alluring white delivers a broad range of flavors in a pillowy texture, while crisp, well-integrated acidity maintains the focus. Melon, coconut, spice and smoky flavors mingle harmoniously on the plush palate. The mineral element is fresh and long. 92 points; #36 of Top 100 Wines of 2015. [Wine Spectator]

There are some riper aromas here leaning towards yellow fruit, but similar purity, maybe not as focused as the regular Godello. The palate is medium-bodied, with good volume, ripe flavors and a slightly bitter finish. 89 points. [Wine Advocate]

Discreet, fine, appley aromas. The wine gets more and more intense on the palate, with a nice, persistent fresh finish. Great stuff. 92 points.

Richly textured yet tangy, with earthy, floral aromas and flavors of tropical fruits. **½

It is a clear white wine, pale straw in color with moderate viscosity. On the nose it is clean with medium+ intense aromas of peach skin, lemon zest, melon and salty sea breeze. On the palate it dry, somewhat tart and very crisp with high acidity, medium- body and a long finish.

In the nose atacks with pear, lychee, citrus, fruit and hay notes. In the palate is smooth, salty, easy to drink, light and with a bit metallic taste.

Valdesil "Sobre Lias" Godello
(The winery name is sometimes rendered "Val de Sil"; they bottle other Godellos than just the "Sobre Lias", so beware.)

• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• This wine's CellarTracker review pages.
• This wine's Wine Searcher "Tasting Notes" page.

Some quotations and facts about this wine:

Apple, nectarine, lees and briny aromas steer this Godello toward a round, full palate. Slightly bitter flavors of melon and peach finish much like the wine starts—briny and leesy. This is also pithy tasting, like the inside of a grapefruit peel. 88 points.

The palate is medium-bodied with the sulfur interfering here as well, but with good acidity and balance, perhaps a little lighter than other vintages. 91+ points. [Wine Advovate]

Valdesil make Godellos at four different quality levels. The basic Montenovo is made in tank without much fuss whereas the Valdesil Sobre Lias has a deeper flavour thanks to being enriched by prolonged lees contact.

Color: straw yellow. Nose: minerals, citrus, herbaceous. Taste: fresh, balanced and long, acidity from the ‘atlantic vintage’. Conclusion: very good, ****

An aromatic, elegant nose of apple, citrus and yeast notes leading on to a rich, creamy palate of apple, citrus and butterscotch with a mineral finish, a slightly savoury quality and good acidity. I absolutely love this wine.

The Godello grape is a fleshy, mildly tropical one but it has stunning, palate-cleansing acidity which snaps your taste buds back into order after each creamy sip. Hauntingly beautiful and heavenly with fish dishes this is a dreamboat of a wine and a grape variety which you should introduce yourself to as soon as you possibly can.

Avancia "Cuvée de O" Godello
(They also make a "plain" Godello; don't get confused.)

• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• This wine's CellarTracker review pages.
• This wine's Wine Searcher "Tasting Notes" page.

Some quotations and facts about this wine:

The 2015 is a beauty – with notes of honeysuckle, delicate flowers, crisp, honeyed citrus such as lemons, impressive minerality, a medium body and long finish. It is dry and pure. This is a beauty to drink over the next year or so, although I suspect it may last longer. [Wine Advocate]

This white has heft and cut, with good intensity to the pear, blanched almond, ginger and mineral flavors. Balanced and focused, this leaves a clean, savory finish. 90 points. [Wine Spectator]

Leesy white-fruit aromas come with hints of corn and slate. This feels plump but not too heavy to be cut by a beam of firm acidity. Chunky leesy flavors of apple and kiwi finish fleshy, pulpy and round. 88 points.

Med.gold color; strong toasty/smokey/oak rather leesy strong ripe/mango/floral/very spicy quite international complex nose; intense smokey/toasty/Fr.oak leesy/caramel/butterscotchy very ripe/floral/mango/pineapple/spicy mouthfilling/lush flavor; very long/lingering lush/ripe intense mango/pineapple/floral strong smokey/toasty/Fr.oak soft/leesy/caramel finish; a huge/mouthfilling wine that could be a Chard from anywhere and speaks neither of Godello nor Galicia…

[A] vivacious wine with flavors of citrus, apples and honeysuckle…Luscious and refreshing, with lively flavors of citrus, apples and honeysuckle. ***

We might not think of white wines as intense, but this terrific example shows mineral concentration over ripe tree-fruit flavors of apricot and peach, with some white-pepper spice. **½

For a Splurge

Rafael Palacios was highly influential in getting Godello back on the map, and his renditions are much esteemed. His flagship bottling is the Valdeorras Bodegas Rafael Palacios "As Sortes" Val do Bibei Godello.

• That wine at 1000 Corks
• That wine at Wine Searcher
• Its Wine Searcher "Tasting Notes" page.
• Its CellarTracker pages.





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