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Spanish Wine, Wine Education

godello… on its ‘leaves.’

In the western part of Spain, within the lush region of Galicia, lies a little isolated sub-region noted for its singular dry, warm climate—unlike Galicia but akin to most other wine regions in Spain.  It lives in the rain shadow of the Sierra de Larouca range.  The Godello grape, a native to Galicia, was almost abandoned altogether in the ‘70’s.  Luckily, it was maintained and now provides some of the most complex whites in Spain, as it can often handle more than just stainless steel fermentation.  It has the strength and structure to withstand oak, lee-aging and bottle time. 

The 2008 Benaza Godello, however, while seeing steel tank fermentation, allowing for a brighter, more youthful interpretation of the grape, does sees a couple months on its lees.  ‘On its lees’ it a phrase you hear quite a bit in the wine business, but it is not something that is often explained to the public.  People walk around wondering what this means?  I even had someone in the industry the other day say to me, “I feel so embarrassed… what does it mean to ‘sit on leaves?’  So don’t feel out of the loop if you’re unsure what it means… or if you have never heard this term ever before! 

‘Sur lie’, or ‘on lees’, simply refers to the dead yeast cell deposit that remain on the bottom of the vat once fermentation has occurred.  Winemakers decide then if they want to keep the wine sitting on those lees, allowing for a creamier texture.  Or, they ‘rack’ the wine by putting the liquid in another ageing vessels and leaving the lees behind.  This gives the wine a cleaner, crisper mouthfeel. 

What I really like about this wine is the importer: it is a Jose Pastor Selection wine.  What this translates to for me, as a buyer, is quality.  JPS does not allow anything that slips below the line of the finest quality.  The winegrowers are often longstanding families who practice organic farming methods.  He likes to acknowledge and celebrate Spain’s indigenous grapes in a world when so many new, foreign vines are being planted.  And he stresses lower yields in production.  This wine was one bottle of 2,000 cases in 2008.  To give you some perspective, at the same price, Kendall Jackson Chard is 2.3 million cases per year! 

Godello is definitely on the radar.  All the cool kids seem to be buzzing about this grape.  So hear it is… Best understood with seafood and fried apps.  

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About ahausman

Originally from Wisconsin, I moved to Colorado in 2005 in order to get closer to the mountains and rock climb. When it occurred to me that I would never make money with that hobby, I went to grad school. I received a masters in English and American Literature from New York University in May of 2009. I have since then opted not to pursue a PhD, for studying and writing about wine is far more fascinating (well, perhaps not moreso than Virginia Woolf, but still… for the long haul?). My favorite wines come from the old world, especially the Rhone, Burgundy, Rioja, Piedmont, and Tuscany. I am also smitten with roses, Italian hard-to-pronounce white varietals, and dessert wines from around the world. By day I run a wine shop. By nite, I sip and tell. It’s rough… but someone must do this.

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