December 2013


Have you experienced Godello yet? It has become quite the rage lately. Jancis Robinson quipped, “The more I taste this north-west Spanish white wine variety, the more I love it.” “Truly adore the Spanish white wines from an indigenous varietal-Godello”, tweeted Robert Parker. Sam Beckett has been waiting endlessly for it (insert cheeky grin).

Hailing from the Valdeorras region of northwest Spain, this local varietal had nearly become extinct by the 1970s. Since it was prone to damp conditions, its planting didn’t stretch as far as the Galician coast and so it settled in the inland area of Valdeorras. Because of its low resistance to powdery mildew, downy mildew and botrytis, its sensitivity to excessive hot sunshine, and its tendency to produce naturally low yields, painstakingly careful vine-growing was required. This meant that when bulk wine was in great demand, such as in the 1960s, the planting of other easier non-native varieties was preferred. One of the earliest and best of the modern godello producers was Viña Godeval. It was with their founding in 1986 that the resurgence began.

Rafael Palacios

Sabrego LabelEnter Rafael Palacios, whose purchase of mature Godello vines (up to 100 years old!) from established local growers has helped to revitalize this beautiful grape. The vineyards are located in the western part of the Valdeorras region, on the right bank of the Bibei River at altitudes between 1800 and 2160 feet. OK, this is not really high for us mountain folk, but it is high for grapes. These sandy, slate, granite-rich soils (or “Sabrego”- rich soils) are the reason for godello’s success and lend a weight and juicy minerality to the wines.
In 1885 José Ramón Gayoso, passionately believing in the nobility of the area’s native Godello grape variety, planted the first vines on the high, slate-filled hillsides of the Sil valley. Little by little he expanded these small parcels of vines, or ‘Pezas’, carefully choosing the best sites around Portela. After the passing of Gayoso, the family sold many of these parcels to other growers. The Pedrouzos estate plot, which contains the oldest Godello vines in Galicia, was kept in the family. The family produces a meager 300 magnum bottles annually of “Pedrouzos”, an unfathomable elixir from those ancient vines (planted in 1885!), and we managed to procure a few…stunning!

In 2001, the Prada family (current generation owners) began to buy back those parcels that had been sold off. Today, all the Godello ‘pezas’ that had been planted by Gayoso in late 19th century have been recovered and incorporated into the family estate. Excerpted from