Viña Godeval Valdeorras Godello 2005
The Valdeorras region in eastern Galicia, northeast Spain, is an area of steep hills, terraced
vineyards, and a wet Atlantic climate. Until the last few years much of the area's wine has
been unmemorable, but, as in many areas of Spain, dedicated winemakers, often using
hyper-modern equipment and techniques, are beginning to give new life to a traditional grape.
The Valdeorras grape in question is the aromatic white Godello—pronounced
go-day-yo. One of the oldest grape varieties in Spain, the Godello was documented
even in Roman times, but was nearly extinct just a generation ago. Godello is not the first
southern European grape to be rescued from the brink, of course, but it differs from many in
that it promises to appeal to international tastes as an alternative to Chardonnay, Sauvignon
Blanc and Pinot Grigio. Godello is a tricky grape to grow and vinify, but in the right hands,
the wine makes a statement.
Viña Godeval is a relatively new winery housed in a converted medieval monastery. The $12 stainless-steel fermented wine brings the key qualities that make the grape such a charmer: fruit, acidity, minerality, and a strong floral element, all superbly balanced. The wine is 100% Godello.
Godello shares with certain other aromatic grapes like Riesling an enhanced ability to express terruño (the Spanish equivalent of the better-known French term, terroir), and terruño this wine has: the minerality of Godeval's slate-enriched hillsides. The minerality is a key note that makes this wine potentially great rather than admirably good.
The Godello's aroma is delicate. The palate is an echo and continuation of the nose, with
somewhat greater depth. The key fruit notes are peach, apricot, lemon and grapefruit, all
expressed with lively acidity. The floral notes are best likened to wildflowers, a field's worth.
The wine is so well integrated that fruit and floral ride in tandem almost as one entity,
leading to a satisfying citrus peel finish. It is all a considerable package.
Godello is an old grape if you consider its history, a promising new grape if you look at its market potential.
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman