Bodegas Raul Perez Ultreia Godello 2018
The Godello is from three sites in the village of Valtuille de Abajo, though 90% of the fruit in this vintage actually comes from one north-facing site. The ultimate focus here is on preserving acidity, so this wine is picked on the knife edge of ripeness.
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“For a Spaniard, godello may be the closest thing you can get to Burgundy,” said Nacho Monclús, a native of Huesca, a Spanish province on the border with France, who’s now a wine director in NYC and a panelist for our tastings. This does, in fact, have the savory intensity of a Côte d’Or wine, with its notes of bruised apple, green pear and mineral acidity. In style and sophistication, it may be more like the long-lived white wines Luis Anxo Rodríguez Vázquez produces across the mountains from Bierzo in Galicia’s Ribeiro. Whatever comparison you make, it’s beautiful, fresh, mineral-rich and well worth seeking out.
2017 was the year of frost, and production was very small. So, we jumped to the entry-level white 2018 Ultreia Godello, which was produced with purchased grapes from different plots and new vineyards (including one in the zone of Ponferrada and also vineyards in Cacabelos and Valtuille), from a mix of soils, slate and clay. This sets the tone of the whites from the vintage: it has perfect ripeness, freshness and harmony and is very clean, with precision and clarity. It's subtly varietal and was fermented in used barriques and used oak foudres of different sizes. They never rack or do bâtonnage, and they never use sulfur until bottling. It's fuller and more volume, which is compensated by more acidity. The élevage lasts until the next harvest, when they need the oak containers, trying to keep them empty for the shortest amount of time possible. The wine is approachable and a bit gentler, for a wider audience. Rating: 92+
Raul Perez was born into a winemaking family, Bodegas Castro Ventosa, the largest owner of Mencia plantings in Bierzo. Raul grew up developing his ideals and worked at the family winery until 2003. His reluctance to compromise has made him both controversial and popular.
Bodegas Raul Perez produces extra limited, handcrafted, artisinal wines from varieties such as Albarino, Mencia, Bastardo and Godello from northwestern Spain.
One of the few northwestern Spanish regions with a focus on a red variety, Bierzo, part of Castilla y León, is home to the flowery and fruity Mencia grape. Mencia produces balanced and bright red wines full of strawberry, raspberry, pomegranate, baking spice, pepper and black licorice. The well-drained soils of Bierzo are slate and granite.
Godello is native to northwest Spain and has experienced a major revival in the last 20 years. Godello wines are typically sleek and lightly creamy in texture. Barrel fermentation and lees stirring are typical in Valdeorras, Spain where the grape comes from. These winemaking techniques make the most of Godello's inherent structure and help bring out its lovely floral character. Somm Secret—DNA profiling says that Spain’s Godello is actually identical to the Portugese grape variety Gouveio, which grows throughout the Douro and Dão (where it used to mistakenly be called Verdelho).