I always enjoy exploring varietals a little bit off the beaten path. It’s interesting to learn about their history and find out why they’re not well known. It’s also fun to discover them for their taste and pairing possibilities. My focus of interest right now is Godello (pronounced “go-DAY-oh”), a white-wine grape that originated in Galicia in northwestern Spain.
Godello is not a well-known varietal for the reason that, like so many wines, it was once almost lost. Long ago, it flourished in Spain, Portugal and other Mediterranean areas, so it is clear that this is a grape with some history and lasting power. But due to changing economics and tastes, in the 1970s, many Godello vines were torn up to make room for the prolific Andalusian grape, Palomino, used in sherry.
Thankfully, some wine researchers who saw the success of Albariño, a similar white grape in the eastern part of Galicia, undertook reevaluating Godello in western Galicia. The result is that Godello is making a comeback. The best Godello is coming from Valdeorras, a sub-region of Galicia.
Many are using comparatives to describe Godello – “the next white Burgundy,” “a new Chardonnay.”
I actually find that Godello can stand up quite nicely described on its own terms. I noticed a lot of minerality and floral notes but thought I would share two great descriptions that I found online:
- ApproachGuides.com: “Godello-based wines have the big fruit and acidity of albariño (peaches, citrus, apple), but with a bit more body and slightly higher alcohol.”
- BostonGlobe.com: “While the freshness of apples and citrus are present from the first sip, these dry whites emphasize minerality. Some bottles suggest notes of freshly dug earth while others offer a flinty, graphite edge. Bracing, juicy acidity is the unifying feature of these pours, along with an unmistakable bitterness and hit of saline in just the right amounts. It’s no wonder these wines are lively partners with food.”
As is the case with Chardonnay, you can make Godello in oak barrels or in steel. The results are what you’d expect: richer, throatier wine from barrels, and crisper, neater notes from steel.
We enjoyed our Godello with baked fish topped with Romesco, a delightful red Spanish sauce with hazelnuts in a thick tomato base. I’m sure it would also be very good with semi-hard aged cheeses like provolone picante and pasta tossed with an herb pesto.
The good news, according to Approachguides.com, is that “While Galicia’s star albariño grape has become increasingly well known internationally, Godello continues to fall below most consumers’ radar screens; this has served to make Godellos excellent values.”