Godello ‘in between Chardonnay and Riesling’

Spain’s great white hope Godello is “in between Chardonnay and Riesling” in character due to its ability to express terroir according to one winemaker working with the grape.

Borja Prado talks terroir

Borja Prado explains the importance of the slate soils in Valdeorras

Speaking to the drinks business during a recent visit to Valdeorras, Borja Prado of Valdesil said: “Godello is in between Chardonnay and Riesling in character – it absorbs and expresses the terroir in a similar way.

“Like Burgundian Chardonnay, it’s not very aromatic in nature but it has great aging potential. I want to prove that Spanish whites can age gracefully.

“I’m aiming to express the specific conditions of the vintage in Valdeorras, which can change Godello from having citrus notes to ripe, tropical aromas.

“You get a lot of vintage variation in Valdeorras – it’s like Bordeaux. It’s been so hot so far this year we might have to harvest at the beginning of September.”

Valdesil takes its name from the Sil river that flows through Valdeorras, which Prada describes as fast becoming “one of the great wine rivers of the world”.

“The Sil runs through Valdeorras, Bierzo, Ribera Sacra and Ribeiro. People are coming from all over Spain to make wine in these northwestern regions.

“Spain is moving towards more intellectual styles of wine and is less focused on blockbusters.

“Younger winemakers are rising up through the ranks who understand grapes like Pinot Noir and Riesling and are rediscovering Spanish grapes with similar characteristics,” Prada told db.

In addition to making five different Godellos, Prada also makes Mencía, which he believes is more “red fruited, lighter and prettier” than those made in Bierzo.

“In the ‘80s my father was driven to make a world class red from Mencía. Traditionally they were too acidic and deep in colour but the variety is getting world recognition now – it’s hugely popular in Australia,” he said.

The first estate to export Godello and Mencía in the early ‘90s, the jewel in Valdesil’s crown is an ancient Godello vineyard planted by Prada’s grandfather, José Ramon Gayoso, in 1885, making it the oldest Godello vineyard in the world.

The small amount of fruit the gnarly vines yield goes into top drop Pedrozo, of which only around 300 magnums are made a year.

With an annual production of 190,000 bottles, Prada’s Godellos can be found at top Spanish restaurants like El Celler de Can Roca and Arzak.

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