Cellar Tours Blog

Top 10 Godello and Albariño wines

Posted by gen On April - 26 - 2013

Fine White Wines from Galicia

It is hard to believe that until recently these two wonderful and increasingly popular white varieties – Godello and Albariño, grown in Galicia in north-west Spain – have languished in obscurity.  Of course, local growers and Spanish connoisseurs championed their virtues for decades, but it is only over the past 10 years or so that wine lovers across the globe have been able to enjoy these aromatic, delicious and refreshing wines. And with exports rising, it looks like a new generation of wine drinkers are going to fall in love with Spain’s answer to the Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc craze.

horreo

The origin of the Albariño and Godello grapes is still disputed, although German oenologists and supporters like Miguel Torres claim that Albariño was taken from the Rhine and Mosel vineyards by German Monks in the 12th century. This would seem to make sense, as the name Albariño means “The Rhine white.” Its home is the Rias Baixas region in western Galicia, which is divided into 5 sub-zones: Val do Salnes, O Rosal, Condado do Tea, Soutomaior and Ribera do Ulla. Godello is found to the west of the town of Ourense in the Ribeiro and Valdeorras regions. The best results arguably come from the Valdeorras D.O (appellation) which was re-planted with Godello in the 1970s.

Uva Gallega

The above comparisons between Albariño and Godello with that much-loved variety, Sauvignon Blanc, are reasonably accurate, for all three varieties can produce aromatic, charming wines with varying depths of fruitiness. Like Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc, most of their class and fruitiness is developed while the wines are still young, although experiments are increasingly been undertaken with barrel and lees aging. But generally, an old Albariño will taste flat and monotone, although Godello can age successfully for several years.

However, the flavor profile of Albariño is perhaps closer to Riesling, while Godello usually has good acidity, soft fruit and a spicy bouquet. Its structure is not dissimilar to Chardonnay, meaning that the winemaker has some license to coax out what flavors or aromas he sees fit.  Both of these grapes deserve pairing with the finest seafood and light fish dishes – they are divine with scallops or sea bass!

As you might expect, quality does vary but the best producers can always be relied upon to craft excellent wines of real class and distinction.

The following are our favorite 10 Godellos and Albariños. ¡ Salud!

Godellos:

1. 2011 Louro do Bolo Godello

One of the undisputed Kings of Godello production, winemaker Rafael Palacios has crafted a Godello to rival the finest white wines of the world. Vinified and matured in oak foudre from Normandy, this example from the Valdeorras region shows great complexity, elegance and finesse. Expect tropical fruit, a smooth texture and a smoky finish!

louro do bolo

2. 2011 Valdesil Godello

A beautifully balanced and clean Godello from the Valdesil winery, showing lovely citrus and pineapple fruit, underpinned by that dependable Godello freshness and acidity. Light, elegant and moreish – what more could you ask from a white wine? Try it with squid or mussels.

valdesil

3. 2011 Peña das Donas, Almalarga Godello

This small, family owned estate is today producing some of the best Godello from the Ribeira Sacra region in Galicia. Owner/winemaker Antonio Lombardía takes meticulous care of his vineyards, crafting an un-oaked but weighty Godello that displays peach fruit and almond characteristics – Smooth, aromatic and delicious.

4. 2011 Bodegas Godeval Viña Godeval Blanco

An energetic, crisp, pungent Godello from the respected Godeval estate in Valdeorras. The 2011 vintage displays complex notes of citrus, grapefruit, lanolin and spicy herbal notes – a vibrant wine with a strong mineral finish. A brilliant accompaniment for salmon or Asian cuisine.

godeval

5. 2011 Telmo Rodriguez, Gaba do Xil Godello

Telmo Rodriguez is one of Spain’s superstars, making superlative wines in many of the country’s best wine regions. His recent foray into Godello production is already giving spectacular results: the 2011 is a serious, fleshy wine of real depth and complexity. Expect floral, pear, citrus and lemongrass notes.

gaba

Albariños:

6. 2011 Santiago Ruiz Albariño

Galicia’s long established Albariño pro – the so called father of Albariño -  Santiago Ruiz releases year after year excellent and great value Albariños from its superior vineyards in the Rias Baixas zone. The 2011 is another great example: floral aromas are complimented by wonderful citrus, apple and pear flavours on the palate – Delicious with Shellfish.

santiago

7. 2011 Adegas Galegas Veigadares Albariño

Undoubtedly one of the finest estate today in Galicia, Adegas Galegas was established relatively recently in 1995 and continues to produce top class wines. The 2011 is aromatically complex, balance and refined, with powerful green fruit and mineral flavors.

8. 2011 Bodegas Fillaboa Albariño

Fillabao was established in Galicia many decades ago, and is today a consistently impressive producer of pungent, crowd pleasing Albariño from their 70 hectares of vineyards. Even in weaker vintages these wines are a dependable buy, displaying classic pineapple, apple and citrus notes.

Fillaboa

9. 2011 Martin Codax Albariño

A widely awarded family business producing excellent quality wines at affordable prices. Much investment has been put into the bodega and it shows – the wines have been getting steadily more impressive over the last 10 years. Their 2011 Albariño is a bright, fresh, modern example from the region, offering intense aromas of grapefruit, citrus and rose petal. An all time classic.

martin

10. 2011 Zarate Tras da Viña Albariño

A family firm dating back to the 1920s, Zarate make a range of Albariños including the thoroughly modern and stylish Tras da Vina that is subject to over 25 months lees ageing, a practice which is becoming increasingly fashionable. An unusually rich and complex Albariño, with yeasty notes and a creamy texture that complements the classic citrus fruit.

Galicia Wine Country Santiago de Compostela Cathedral

Early this summer we did an extensive road trip to check out wineries, restaurants and hotels in Spain’s northwestern region of Galicia, nestled just above Portugal on the Atlantic. Galicia is really unique in Spain and about as “un-Spanish” as you could imagine. The climate resembles Ireland or Scotland, the bagpipes are the main instrument used in the regional music and Celtic dolmens can be found here! The atmosphere is misty and mystical, just wonderful. We highly encourage you to visit this special and fairly undiscovered Spanish region.

Galicia

Here are some of our notes from the trip, and some of our new suppliers…

We began our tour in gorgeous Santiago de Compostela (have always loved this charming medieval city with its ancient cathedral that attracts millions of pilgrims each year following the Saint James Way (called the Camino de Santiago). We revisited the striking Parador, located in a one of the oldest hotels in the world and where King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel stayed in the 15th century (!!), to do a follow up inspection. The Hostal dos Reis Catolicos has been used as a Royal hospital (for pilgrims) and an inn since the late 1400′s and today is a 5 star hotel. There is a new manager and a fresh breath of new life flowing through this historic hotel and despite the fact that the rooms are a bit dated, there is simply no better place to stay in Santiago de Compostela.

We received the grand tour of the property and were entertained by legends and anecdotes. One of the main event halls, for example, is where the old maternity ward of the ancient hospital was; one of the bedrooms was used for plague victims; one staircase is called suicide stairwell…this place is just oozing with atmosphere and history. It is THE place to stay while in Santiago.  On the other hand, we didn’t like the location or decor at the other five star hotel in Santiago, AC Palacio del Carmen, and it lacked character. Another hotel we did love love love, however, was the Parador Monasterio de Santo Estevo, read a review here on our Ten Best Wine Hotels in Spain post. It can be used as a base, as we did, for Ribeira Sacra, the most stunning and pristine wine region in Galicia.

Santiago de Compostela Parador Hotel Santiago de Compostela Parador

STAR WINERIES: we visited many estates in Rias Baixas, Ribeira Sacra and Ribeiro and tasted an array of Albariño, Loureira, Godello, and Treixadura based zippy white wines and a few Mencia based reds (Mencia is the grape used in neighboring Bierzo, one of Spain’s most stylish red wine regions). The climate in Galicia´s wine country is starkly different to other regions in Spain. Here in Galicia, you are right on the Atlantic. The cool and wet misty climate directly affects the viticulture and most of the vines are on pergolas to avoid the moist earth. Wineries range in size, from large estates like the prestigious Martin Codax to ultra tiny cellars like the high-end Santiago Ruiz winery.

Here is a pick of some of our favorite estates, wines and personalities:

PAZO DE SEÑORÁNS, RIAS BAIXAS-

Pazo de Señoráns Wine estate Galicia SpainPazo de Señoráns Wine estate Galicia SpainPazo de Señoráns Wine estate Galicia Spain

This elegant wine estate known for their Albariños is GORGEOUS. While the winery itself is small, new and nothing interesting, the estate itself is stunning. Lush trellised vines pan out in all directions, punctuated by manicured flowerbeds flowing over with pink, purple and blue “Hortensias” (hydrangeas), a beautiful flower so commonly seen around Galicia. The property features a 17th century Pazo (manor house) and a spectacular Hórreo (a traditional granary you find in Green Spain) as well as a historic chapel (that up until this year has still been functioning and many couples have come to be married here at the winery). The owner, Señora Marisol Bueno is one of the most famous personalities in the Rias Baixas appellation and has long been a pioneering force for quality in the region. Their Selección de Añada (specially selected vintage wine), only made in superb years made with 100% old vine Albariño and uniquely aged on its lees for over 2 years before release, is the best wine we tasted on our research trip and one of the best great white wines of Spain at the moment. Marisol´s friendly and knowledgeable daughter gave us the tour, and this estate is absolutely equipped to welcome our VIP clients

Pazo Barrantes Wine Estate Rias Baixas Galicia Pazo Barrantes Wine Estate Rias Baixas Galicia

More info on Pazo de Señoráns

AGRO DE BAZÁN, RIAS BAIXAS-

Agro de Bazan Wine Estate Galicia Agro de Bazan Wine Estate Galicia

This dynamic and lovely winery (founded in the 80´s) are well known for their Granbazán Albariño and their rich dry red wines made in the sister estate Mas de Bazán in the Utiel-Requena appellation in the southeast of Spain. Located in Vilanova de Arousa, the area changes evrey few minutes from industrial parks to picture perfect forest, from pockets of both lovely and built up coastline. Once you arrive to the estate, however, you forget all about its surroundings. The vineyards are beautiful and the traditional manor style house seems somehow funkier with the motorbike parked right out front. Agro de Bazán boasts a young, international and enthusiastic team making excellent Albariño wines that respect tradition.  Fabulous place and fabulous people, completely professional and ready to welcome you to their estate.

Agro de Bazan wine estate Rias Baixas Galicia Agro de Bazan wine estate Rias Baixas Galicia

More info on Agro de Bazan

PALACIO DE FEFIŇANES, RIAS BAIXAS-

We didn´t actually have a good visit here as the woman who was supposed to receive us did not show up for our appointment, a bad start ! But we were soon won over by the wine itself and the beauty of their very own wine castle and tiny, historic cellar. It is located in the prettiest part of the historic town of Cambados (also referred to as the Albariño capital, and a great place to buy wine as there are various wine shops with an extensive selection of local wines you won´t be able to find at home). The square is named after the palace and stand gracefully across the street from the attractive stone church. Palacio de Fefiñanes is the oldest winery (callled “Adega” in the Galician language) in the Rias Baixas appellation, founded in 1904. The estate features a 17th century palace cum castle and a very small vineyard. They make one wine only, with its own grapes as well as other grapes bought in from small local viticultors. As the winery flaked on us for our inspection visit, we won´t be including them in our tours but we do believe it is worth a visit If you find yourself in the area, so if you will be near Cambados, just have your hotel call ahead of time to see if anyone will be able to receive you.

Palacio de Fefinanes wine estate Rias Baixas GaliciaPalacio de Fefinanes wine estate Rias Baixas GaliciaPalacio de Fefinanes wine estate Rias Baixas Galicia

More info on Palacio de Fefiñanes

PAZO CASANOVA, RIBEIRO-

Pazo Casanova wine estate GaliciaPazo Casanova wine estate GaliciaPazo Casanova wine estate Galicia

What a gem!!!!!!!!!!!! Loved the estate (actually there are two estates, both with ancient pazo houses and lush vineyards). We stomped in the vines with the charismatic owner, Carlos de la Peña. Read a full review of the estate here in our autumn newsletter as we selected their Casanova wine as our recommended wine of the season.

More info on Pazo Casanova

Pazo Casanova wine estate Galicia Pazo Casanova wine estate Galicia

ADEGA ALGUEIRA, RIBEIRA SACRA

Another darling little spec of a winery with a passionate and charming owner (Fernando González) is Adega Algueira, located in an ancient stone house near the majestic terraced wine valley of the Ribeira Sacra (translated as sacred hillside). While over 15 grape varietals are allowed in the appellation, the main red grape used is Mencia (and important to note that this region, along with Valdeorras, is where Galicia´s red wines are made).  Apart from wine grape production, Ribeira Sacra is also a natural park and home to much wildlife such as Peregrine Falcons, Golden Eagles, wild boar and badgers. So, how surprised were we to find out that this tiny winery, in a practically unknown hidden corner of Galicia, got 95 Parker points this year for their aged mencia?!! We tasted Fernando´s wines at lunch on his rustic terrace overlooking the grounds, sublime! Again- amazing people, amazing wines, true and bonified wine discovery gem. Fernando and his wife have lovely ideas for wine harvest experiences on the dizzyingly steep and beautiful vineyard terraces overlooking the Rio Miño and Rio Sil, and we will be creating some excellent trips here.

Adega Algueira Wine estate Galicia Spain Adega Algueira Wine estate Galicia Spain

More info on Adega Algueira

BEST OF WHAT WE SAW:  the Parador Santo Estevo;  Santiago de Compostela, with its romantic ambiance in the quaint old town at night and many excellent restaurants like the Michelin starred Toñi Vicente and the whimsical Casa Marcelo; the above mentioned wines and estates; the Northeastern Galician coast (unspoiled and dramatic).

WHAT TO AVOID: Virtually the entire coast south of Santiago de Compostela, barring some lovely coves and the picturesque town of Baiona, is given over to mass development and sloppy building. The cities of Pontevedra and Ourense were not nice, you can definitely skip them. Southern Galicia in general is quite densely populated. The regions of Ribeiro (especially Pazo Casanova!!) and Rias Baixas are definitely worth touring, but don’t expect pristine wine country as there is a bit of industry and half built houses (the building boom has gone bust). Ribeira Sacra on the other hand is in a protected park and is ABSOLUTELY breathtaking, resembling Portugal´s Douro Valley.

Galicia wine country Galicia wine country

Ten Best Wine Hotels in Spain

Posted by gen On October - 28 - 2008

Hacienda Zorita Wine Hotel Spain

Spain is home to some of the most fabulous wine regions in Europe (including La Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Penedès, Priorat, Sherry, Toro, Navarra, Somontano, Rias Baixas, Ribera Sacra, Rueda and many other appellations)  and more and more the concept of a wine hotel (either a working winery with accommodation or  a hotel set amid the vineyards) is taking off.  A list of some of the best wine hotels in Spain to help you plan your next wine tasting vacation in Spain-

Hacienda Zorita, Salamanca

The Hacienda Zorita is a romantic and relaxing estate (part of the Haciendas de España wine hotel chain, leaders in wine tourism in Spain) to enjoy a weekend break near the beautiful city of Salamanca. Read a full review of the hotel here. More info on hotel here.

More info on Salamanca

Hacienda Zorita Wine Hotel Spain Hacienda Zorita Wine Hotel Spain

Hacienda Abascal – Ribera del Duero

Also belonging to Haciendas de España, the Abascal estate is located right on the “Golden Mile” in Ribera del Duero, home to such famed wine estates as Vega Sicilia, Arzuaga and Viña Mayor. The stunning Abadia Retuerta estate is around the corner, too, so this is a great based to explore some wineries for a few days. the Abascal has stylish rooms, a new and exciting restaurant called The Durius Café, run by mythical Spanish chef Sergi Arola. The views from nearly every point in this hotel are of vineyards and in autumn, it is simply gorgeous with the flaming red and orange leaves blanketing the plains. More info on the hotel here.

Hacienda Abascal Wine Hotel Spain Hacienda Abascal Wine Hotel Spain

Hacienda Unamuno, Arribes del Duero

 Hacienda Unamuno Wine Hotel Spain

The smallest of the Haciendas de España group, and most intimate located in the dramatic Arribes del Duero wine country near the Portuguese border. This area is a protected nature reserve and pristine, and for a romantic and revitalizing weekend or even week long stay, this could be a fantastic base to explore the nearby wine country (Toro and Ribera del Duero are not far, and you can easily do day trips into Portugal as well as the historic city of Zamora). The “hotelito” is located inside a beautiful historic farmhouse, and is named after the philosopher Miguel de Unamuno. The vibe is very artsy and plenty of stressed out professionals from big cities come here to relax. Apart from winetasting onsite you can also do cheese tastings and olive oil tastings from their collection of properties. The hotel can arrange romantic picnics and private dinners for two as well. More info on the Haciendas de España website.

Hacienda Unamuno Wine Hotel Spain Hacienda Unamuno Wine Hotel Spain

Can Bonastre in Penedès, close to Barcelona

Can Bonastre Wine Resort Spain

This luxurious wine resort has extensive manicured grounds, views of the Montserrat mountains, an in-house beautiful winery, fashionable bedrooms, and a gourmet hotspot restaurant (called Tribia, this is the best restaurant in the region at present and you can expect goodies like exquisite Arbequina olive oil, and Rosé Cava from the Can Bonastre estate). What more could you ask for? Oh, and they have helipads for VIPs as well! The perfect base to use while exploring the Penedès wine country taking in visits to big names like Torres and Codorniu and boutique cellars like Albet i Noia and Jean Leon. Highly highly recommended hotel!  More info on Can Bonastre here.

More info on Penedès wine region

More info on wineries in the Penedès

Profile of Barcelona

Can Bonastre Wine Hotel Spain Can Bonastre Wine Hotel Spain

Marqués de Riscal, El Ciego, La Rioja

The “ultimate” luxury wine hotel in Spain, here is our newsletter review of this stunning property designed by Frank Gehry (who also designed the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, among numerous other high profile projects around the world).

More info on La Rioja wine region

City profile of Laguardia, located about 5 minutes from the hotel

Marques de Riscal Wine Hotel Spain Marques de Riscal Wine Hotel Spain

Parador Monasterio de Santo Estevo, close to Ribera Sacra, Galicia

This newly inaugurated Parador hotel is FABULOUS and we used it as a base to discover the wine country of Ribera Sacra, Galicia´s most beautiful and undiscovered wine region.  The hotel is located in a historic Benedictine monastery that has been revamped with elegant and innovative decoration and the views from our room over the lush grounds are stunning. More info on hotel here.

Info on Santiago de Compostela, Galicia´s most beautiful town

Info on Rias Baixas, the most prominent Galician wine region

Parador Monasterio de Santo Estevo Wine Hotel Spain Parador Monasterio de Santo Estevo Wine Hotel Spain

Pago de Cirsus, Navarra

Navarra is one of the least explored wine regions in Spain and yet one of the most interesting. You have stunning medieval towns like Olite with its spectacular castle, and miles upon miles of unspoiled wine country. The exclusive Pago de Cirsus hotel is for lovers of the “buena vida”. There is a 16th century fortress, a high-end winery and an excellent restaurant (with a gastronomic focus on the best products of Navarra, especially vegetables). Expect beautiful grounds, luxurious rooms and a lovely garden. More info here.

Pago Cirsus Wine Hotel Spain Pago Cirsus Wine Hotel Spain

Palacio de Garvey, Jerez (Sherry Country)

Palacio Garvey in Jerez Wine Hotel Spain

Jerez is unique in Spain in that the bodegas (wineries) are located right in the historic center, whereas the vineyards are spread out throughout various provinces. So you can go wine tasting right downtown, by foot! We love the Palacio Garvey hotel as it is in a prime, central location and it merges its palatial architecture with contemporary and ultra stylish decor. The restaurant is EXCELLENT with good wine service. Apart from Sherry wines you can also taste an array of superb red wines from beautiful Ronda, also in Andalusia. The Palacio Garvey has many special touches from complimentary wine upon arrival, clawfoot romantic bathtubs, and four poster beds with sublime sheets. Highly recommended if you are visiting Jerez.

Info on Jerez

Info on Sherry

List of wine producers to visit

Palacio Garvey in Jerez Wine Hotel Spain Palacio Garvey in Jerez Wine Hotel Spain Palacio Garvey in Jerez Wine Hotel Spain

Pago del Vicario, La Mancha

In the vast plains of La Mancha, land of Don Quixote, a vinous Renaissance is taking place with countless new winery projects (many whose investments are in the multi-millions of euros) and things are-a- shaking regards to wine tourism. One of the most interesting winery cum hotels is Paco del Vicario, whose rosé is one of the most exciting rosés in Spain. The hotel is decorated extremely tastefully with rich colors (burgundy, cream, eggplant, beige, gold, so forth) and modern flourishes (there are a few zebra stripes here). You can visit the winery of course while staying here, dine in the excellent restaurant and visit other wineries in the area. The beautiful town of Almagro, known for its wonderful classical theatre festival, is only 30 km from here and an easy half day excursion.

Pago del Vicario Wine Hotel Spain Pago del Vicario Wine Hotel Spain

More info on Pago Vicario wine hotel

Palacio Canedo, Prada a tope Winery, Bierzo

Bierzo is the new “it” region in Spain, extremely exciting for wine lovers. It is also an unspoiled and very picturesque region located southeast of Galicia. The Prada a Tope winery is one of the oldest and most famous and they have an entire working farm making everything from wines to candied chestnuts to marinated peppers and much more. Whereas the other hotels in this list are quite luxurious and contemporary, the Palacio Canedo (the name of this winery´s rustic inn) is romantically rustic. The ideal time to come would be autumn, after harvest when the vineyards are at their most beautiful and when it is cold enough to light the onsite fireplaces.

Palacio Canedo Wine Hotel Spain Palacio Canedo Wine Hotel Spain

More info on Palacio Canedo

More info on the Bierzo wine region

More info on Leon, a nearby Spanish city on the Saint James pilgrimage route

General information on Spanish Wine Regions

Coming next year- Abadia Retuerta Luxury Wine Hotel in Ribera del Duero, this will be fantastic! More info here.