Erik Neilson on February 4, 2017 0 Comments Spain is considered by both novice and expert wine enthusiasts to be one of the world’s best and most prolific producers. Garnacha, Tempranillo, Romanico and more tantalize the senses, and some of the best values in the world of wine can be found in Spanish Rioja. There are also a number of Spanish grapes that aren’t quite as well known as these, however, which only occasionally find themselves in the spotlight. This is especially true for Spanish whites, and there are few grapes that are as egregiously unrepresented as Godello. The History of Godello To trace the origins of the Godello grape, one must head to the Northwest Spanish province of Galicia, which happens to be just north of Portugal and is particularly known as a haven for some of the world’s best sardines. Within Galicia is the appellation of Valdeorras, which is the primary location for the current growing and production of Godello wine, although there are many Portuguese wines that may result from Godello growings being marketed under a different varietal name. Most interesting to note about Godello is just how close it came to extinction nearly 50 years ago. Not uncommon in the wine world, Godello plantings dwindled to nearly nothing after interest in the grape fell and Albariño became the focus. After a handful of winemakers in the area campaigned to bring more attention to the grape by releasing stellar examples of what it was capable of, Godello quickly saw a resurgence in popularity among both producers and consumers. Today, 1,153 Spanish plantings of Godello exist, up significantly from past numbers. Characteristics When discussing Godello, it’s important to understand just how many different ways in which the wine can be interpreted by producers. Styles can range quite a bit, with some Godellos coming in drier than others, but one thing’s for sure — Godello is not an analog to Chardonnay. The latter grape is often used as a comparison point, even though there are key differences between the two. Godello tends to be fresh and lively on the palate due to the fact that it typically sees stainless steel rather than oak. It’s not uncommon for Godello to be fruit-forward and heavy in the mineral department, neither of which are hallmarks of Chardonnay. All this said, the Godello that does see oak is certainly reminiscent of Chardonnay, taking on creamy characteristics that lead to a rich, full texture and mouthfeel. It’s an excellent pairing for roasted chicken, buttery mashed potatoes or even an opulent hunk of foie gras. Unoaked Godello is a totally different story and perhaps a better representation of the grape and what it’s capable of. Godello that has been fermented in stainless steel tanks features racy acidity and intense minerality, making it one of the best possible pairings for most seafood dishes. The wine doesn’t stop short at minerality, however. Unlike many similar grapes, Godello brings forward ripe fruit flavors that are difficult to pin down, yet impossible to ignore. There are aspects of honeysuckle there, too, reinforcing the influence of terroir on the wine. Bottles to Try You may not have tasted Godello in the past — you may not have even heard of the grape. Once you start looking around, however, you’ll find that there are quite a few examples worth trying at least once. The beauty of Godello can be found in its price point, which, as with many Spanish white wines, tends to be rather low. Here are just a few of the best examples of Godello on the market, all of which are worth picking up if you happen to stumble upon a bottle. Louro do Bolo Godello Visit Northwest Spain, and you’ll soon find out that Rafael Palacios is one of the most revered winemakers in the area. Considered by many to be the king of Godello, Palacios has a way with the grape that few others do, and his wines are some of the best to come out of Spain in many years. Louro do Bolo Godello is matured within oak foudres, which definitely change the profile of the wine and give it a nice complexity. Elegant and full-bodied, this wine shows notes of tropical fruit that give way to a dry, smoky finish. Highly recommended for those who are interested in seeing how oak affects the Godello grape. Monterrei Amizade Godello Translated from Galician, Amizade means “friendship” in English — a fitting name for this wine from Monterrei. Considered by the winemaker to be a “house wine” for his friends in America, Monterrei Amizade Godello is lively, fresh and ready for everyday drinking. This wine is fermented in stainless steel with indigenous yeasts before getting aged on lees for a period of six months. The result is a bright salinity intermixed with notes of thyme, lavender and honeysuckle. The sand and slate soil characteristics really shine in Monterrei Amizade Godello, and at $20 or so, it’s a good value. Valdesil Godello Looking for the perfect Spanish white to pair with seafood? You’ll find it in Valdesil Godello. This wine shows quite a bit of citrus fruit — more than many other bottles of Godello scattered around the market. Underneath the citrus sits a layer of pineapple that’s framed by a quaffable freshness and strong amount of acidity. It’s light and elegant at the same time, making at excellent choice when looking for something to pair with scallops or other shellfish. Guitán Valdeorras Godello Joven Another Godello that shows just how much of an influence oak can have, Guitán Valdeorras Godello Joven is a stellar outing that is not to be missed. Creamy in both texture and flavor, this is a rich and herb-laden wine that gets by on its full-bodied mouthfeel and would be a perfect pairing with roasted game birds. Due to its oak aging, Guitán Valdeorras Godello Joven can actually age in the bottle considerably longer than most Godello. The next time you see a bottle of Godello on the shelves, don’t just walk right past it. Give it a shot — you may wonder where it’s been all your life.