Winemakers around the world are rediscovering traditional grape varieties. That’s great news for discerning oenophiles because, while it’s tough to beat a top-notch Pinot Noir or Sauvignon Blanc, the availability of a Godello, a Manseng or a Petite Arvine adds to the choice – and offers a tempting diversion from the familiar options.
Most of the varieties that are enjoying a revival were dumped after the Second World War because of their limited yields. Quantity, at that time, was more important than quality. The white grape Godello, from the Rias Baixas region in Galicia, was a victim of that trend.
The planting of Godello dates back to the 19th century in the Valencia region. However, its use dwindled and by the 1970s, it was virtually extinct. A few small growers championed the grape and it has gradually returned to prominence – exceeding 1000 hectares in Spain by early this millennium. Godello is now one of the country’s leading trio of white varieties, sharing the podium with Albariño and Verdejo.
We recently added Minius Godello to our list. It is made at Adegas Valmiñor, a modern winery founded in 1998, under the guidance of winemaker Cristina Mantilla (pictured), and it’s a great choice for those who like their wine fresh and fruity.
Minius Godello takes its name from the Latin for the river Miño, the natural border between southern Galicia and Portugal. Here, in the Ourense province, almost 95% of the vineyards were wiped out by the phylloxera insect in the late 19th century and Godello’s fall from favour. Now, with that grape at the forefront, the province is making up for lost time.
The wine is made from the fruit of 30-year-old vines grown in the Ladairo valley, where the ground is a mix of sand, schist and clay. Golden in colour, it takes its character from the soil and the apple, pear and peach flavours that are typical of Godello.
Cristina and her team work tirelessly to ensure optimum quality, pruning throughout the year to deliberately limit production levels. This strategy means that the vines bear less fruit but that, when it comes to harvest time, the grapes that have grown have more complex flavour profiles.
We are delighted to have discovered Cristina’s wine, and we hope you like it too.