Once relegated to wine history’s dustbin, Godello has been resuscitated in its Galician homeland and is slowly gaining fame as Spain’s best full-bodied white, often compared to Chenin Blanc, but when oak-aged it also bears a semblance to white Burgundy. It’s mainly grown in the Valdeorras region of Galicia as well as in Bierzo, which lies just over the Galician border in Castilla y Leon. Godello is not produced in large quantities, and it won’t be found on grocery store shelves, but it’s (still) very reasonably priced and definitely worth seeking out by lovers of good wines.
Our first exposure to Godello was at Zapirain, one of Bilbao’s finest restaurants where the sommelier recommended Rafael Palacios’ Godello as a good pairing for our plates of fresh seafood from the nearby Atlantic. We loved the wine, and the pairing, but we only began seriously tasting it with our recent exploration of the wines of northwest Spain. These wines come from Valdeorras and Monterrei, two of Galicia’s prominent wine appellations. We also tasted several from Bierzo, and those will be discussed in our upcoming report on The Wines of Bierzo.
The wines listed and reviewed below were tasted at our offices in Washington DC and Seattle WA. We list the importers providing the wines and the suggested retail price, when known. We thank Contributing Editor Joel Butler MW for his help with this article.
Adega O Casal 2019 Casal Novo Godello Valdeorras 90 Light yellow straw. Aromatically complex with notes of orchard fruit, melon, and fresh herbs. The attack is soft and fruity with good balance. Delicately textured, the finish shows lingering floral, fruit and mineral notes. Sourced from small, old vineyard parcels and vinified traditionally. 14% alc. Importer: Classical Wines
Adega Pago das Tapias 2019 Finca os Cobates Godello Cepas Viejas Monterrei ($13) 92 Platinum green straw. Exuberant bouquet of apricot, orange flower and a light flinty note. Gorgeous, elegant palate with solid ripe flavors showing citrus fruit and underlying stoneyness. There’s a light phenolic “crunch” on the mid-palate from the skin contact and a hint of saline on the finish. Importer: Casa Ventura Imports
Avancia 2019 Cuvée de O Godello Valdeorras 92 Showing notes of fresh tree-picked apricot and honeysuckle on an expressive nose, these aromas are mirrored on a very bright, fresh palate with additional ripe lemon and even a spicy, peppery note. Finishes long with rich extract and uplifting acidity. Sourced from 50-80 year old, dry farmed, hand cultivated, head trained vineyards of slate and quartz soils at 550-650m overlooking the Sil River. 80% fermented and aged in stainless steel; 20% fermented and aged sur lie 8 months in French oak puncheons and demi-muids. We also tasted the 2017 vintage of the Cuvée O Godello which we found to be even richer and deeper than the 2019 with a mineral accented, spicy finish. Importer: Jorge Ordoñez, Fine Estates from Spain
Avancia 2019 Godello Old Vines Valdeorras ($34) 93 Medium yellow straw. There’s a honeyed lemon accent to the nose along with yellow stone fruit and herbal nuances. A beautifully balanced and finely textured wine, mouth filling yet with good precision, evoking minerals and a sense of place. An exceptionally good, dense Godello. Sourced from two north-facing vineyards: Finca Aeiroá was planted in 1939 on pure slate soils with broken quartz; Finca Porto Mourisco was planted in 1962 on sandy granitic soils. Both are dry farmed, Gobelet trained, hand cultivated vines. Fermented with ambient yeast in French oak puncheons and demi-muids with battonage. We also tasted the 2018 vintage of the Old Vines Godello and found it to be deeper gold straw in color with rich, honeyed, very concentrated flavors and a glycerine like finish. Importer: Jorge Ordoñez, Fine Estates from Spain
Castelo do Papa 2018 Godello Viejo Sobre Lias Valdeorras ($16) 89 Showing a light perfume of acacia, honeycomb, and waxy yellow fruit, this is a full bodied, round and softly textured Godello with pleasant melon, pear and peach skin flavors. The finish is pleasant with a touch of lemon acidity. Made of hand harvested grapes from 37 year old vines grown at 600m elevation, given 8-12 hours skin contact and fermented with ambient yeasts. Importer: Jorge Ordoñez, Fine Estates from Spain
Fedellos do Couto 2018 Conasbrancas Galicia 94 Incisive, spicy nose with hints of stone fruit and wild herbs. This is a terroir driven wine that’s firm and dry on the palate with bright acids and a sense of stony minerals. Rich and complex with a perfumed character of flowers and herbs and an exceptionally long and rich aftertaste. A blend of 60-80 year old Godello, Dona Blanca, Albariño, Treixadura, Lado, and Torrontes; 30% direct press, 70% whole cluster cofermented in barrel and matured in 500L French oak for 8 months on the lees without stirring. 12.5% alc Importer: European Cellars
Fragas do Lecer 2019 Fraga do Corvo Godello Monterrei ($19) 91 Yellow stone fruit, dried herbs, and a touch of lemon show on the nose. Bright and crisp on the attack with good flavor depth. Broad on a smoothly textured, leesy palate and mouth filling, finishing long with ripe stone fruit making a reappearance. A single vineyard Godello from the Tamaguelos Vineyard of 30 year old vines. Fermented in stainless steel and aged sur lie for 7 months. Exceptional value. 14.1% alc. Importer: Think Global LLC
Godeval 2019 Godello Valdeorras 92 Stony, somewhat reticent nose with just a hint of minty herbs showing. Crisp on the attack with good flavor density, a prominent sense of minerality and a melange of light notes of cling peach, apple, and lemon fruit. Refreshing, firm and mouth filling on a refined palate with outstanding balance and lingering thick mineral notes on the finish. Grown on slate soils. 14.1% alc. Importer: Valkyrie Selections
Godeval 2019 Viña Godeval Godello Cepas Vellas Valdeorras 91 Honeyed scents of stone fruit with a hint of thyme show on the nose. Spicy, full and full-flavored in the mouth with excellent refreshing acidity. Lanolin like mouth feel, finishing with citrus and cling peach notes. Made from the winery’s oldest vines grown on the rocky sides of the Sil Valley. 14.1% alc. Importer: Valkyrie Selections
Martin Codax 2019 Mara Godello Monterrei 90 The Mara Godello offers a fresh, fruity nose of cling peach and aromatic honeysuckle. The attack is clean with attractive fruit forward flavors, bright acidity, and mouth filing. Lovely long finish. 12.5% alc. Importer: – E&J Gallo Winery
Martin Codax 2019 Mara Moura Godello Sobre Lías Monterrei 91 Very fresh on the nose with scents of white peach, guava and a hint of citrus. The attack is crisp and clean, while the palate is round and full with excellent acidic cut. There’s lingering rich stone fruit notes on the finish. 12.5% alc. Importer: – E&J Gallo Winery
Rafael Palacios 2019 Louro Godello Valdeorras ($23) 94 This wine provides the finest expression of the Godello grape, fermented in 30 hectoliter French oak foudres and aged on the lees. It shows perfect balance, a refined texture and nuances of honeyed pears and stone fruit complemented by salty, granitic minerals. Outstanding, persistent finish. Made from predominantly organically farmed, younger vine Godello with up to 10% Treixadura fermented in 30 hl French oak foudres and aged on the lees for 4 months. Importer: European Cellars