At the Vintus Wines spring portfolio tasting in New York City last week, I found a surprising number of potential wines of the week. Spanish winemaker Telmo Rodriguez was pouring several less-than-$20 candidates that really impressed me, especially this delicious white, the 2010 Gaba do Xil Godello from the region of Valdeorras. With aromas of orange peel and flowers, crisp flavors of chamomile, stones and fresh pears, and a full, round texture, it’s a tasty, versatile value that seemed to sing of spring.
Over the past 25 years, the still incredibly young-looking Rodriguez (he’s now 50) has emerged as one of the world’s most interesting and pioneering winemakers, on a mission to rediscover Spain’s best terroirs, its old abandoned vineyards, bush-trained vines and neglected indigenous grapes. He drives madly around the country checking on vineyards and wineries in different regions, from which he makes 20 wines. Recently he also took over at his family winery, Rioja’s Bodegas Remelluri, where he grew up.
Godello is a white variety native to Galicia, a region in the country’s northwest. There, in 2004, Rodriguez and his partner Pablo Eguzkiza purchased an ancient vineyard on steep granite terraces at an elevation of 1,500 feet in the town of Santa Cruz in the tiny Valdeorras area, where Romans once grew vines. They saw growers still employing the kind of pruning tools used in the Middle Ages and became convinced of the area’s potential to make serious wines. The label features iconic bridges found in Santa Cruz.
In his vineyard there, Rodriguez focuses on the Mencia (red) and Godello, farms the grapes biodynamically, handpicks them and ferments using mostly native yeast. All that helps give the wines character and authenticity.
You won’t go wrong with just about any wine made by Telmo Rodriguez — he seems to pour as much passion into his cheapest wine as he does into the most expensive. But the Gaba do Xil Godello is just perfect for spring and summer.
Zester Daily contributor Elin McCoy is a wine and spirits columnist and author of “The Emperor of Wine: The Rise of Robert M. Parker, Jr. and the Reign of American Taste.”