Spain lays claim to more than 400 unique grape varieties—and while some may be more well known than others, all produce top quality wines. Godello is a hidden-gem of a white grape from Galicia, on the country’s northern Atlantic coast, which is also known for producing the more-widely-known Albariño. Known as Gouveio in Portugal and Agudelo in France, Godello is making its way across the wine world.
Godello is said to have first been planted here in the early 1900s, and almost died out in the 1970s as vintners began planting more popular grapes. Since then, though, a full revitalization program was launched to bring back more plantings of this treasured grape. It is now the base for many quality white wines from Valdeorras, Ribeira Sacra, and Monterrei.
Because Godello is a lesser-known grape, there is less of a benchmark for how it should taste— meaning that the winemaker can put their own unique spin on it. The variety shines in various conditions and placements, whether planted on slate soils or alluvial (soil made of loose sediment) slopes.
However, generally, this rare grape is distinguished by briney lemon and grapefruit flavors, and premium quality examples can also showcase a smoky minerality. This whisper of salty flavor comes from the ocean air in which the grapes are raised. It has medium-high acidity, often a medium body, and is usually in its prime within 3 to 5 years of age. Godello makes a great alternative for Chardonnay enthusiasts because it, like Chardonnay, is able to range from lean to denser and gives a range of textures.
Most Godellos are steel fermented and don’t generally see much oak; however, those that do can almost resemble a premier cru Chablis. Godellos do get some contact with their lees, which can round out the wine’s texture, but the most important part is the wine’s acidity which Godello shows off with a hint of flinty or gravely flavour. Bottle prices can range from about $20 to $50.
This decidedly Spanish offering makes for a superb spring or summer white. Since it’s a coastal grape, seafood is a natural pairing, but Godello also elevates any dish with lime or cilantro, considering the wine’s acid structure. Conversely, Godello can also pair with a richer cheese to bring out its more fruity and floral notes.