Posted May 19, 2017 This rich white has a broad texture, supported by light tannins and firm acidity. Pear, creamed apple and marzipan flavors mingle with light herbal and vanilla notes. Shows some power but remains balanced.
This wine has plenty of attributes to guess from, so let's dive in.
Let's start with Viognier. Native to southern France, this variety is best known for its wines from the Condrieu region in the Rhône Valley. Recently, many California winemakers have moved towards making Rhône-style wines by cultivating grapes from that region, including Viognier. The wines are full-bodied and aromatic, often with flavors of stone fruit and honeysuckle. Since we are not getting either of those flavors, it's safe to say this is not Viognier.
Chardonnay is one of the most popular white grapes in the world and makes exceptional wines from Burgundy in France. In California, Chardonnay is often aged in oak barrels, which can impart flavors of baking spice as well as a creamy or buttery note. The creamed apple and vanilla flavors cited in our note could lead us to think this might be a California Chardonnay, except it's missing the classic citrus notes that these wines often have.
In Austria, Grüner Veltliner is the star grape. These wines can be made in a variety of styles, from lighter, almost spritzy wines to fuller bodied, complex wines. One thing that remains throughout in most Grüners is high acidity, citrus flavors and spice notes such as white pepper. The acidity described in our wine could match that of Grüner Veltliner, however, our description lacks the other characteristics found in wines from this variety.
That leaves us with two varieties that are native to the Iberian peninsula: Godello and Albariño. Similar to Grüner, Albariño can be made in different styles ranging from those with simpler citrus flavors to those with more complexity, particularly when aged on the lees or in oak. Generally, Albariños are fruity and floral whites with fresh acidity and a firm structure. Our descriptors definitely point to a complex wine with firm acidity and signs of oak aging, but no floral notes.
Finally, we have Godello. Once nearly extinct, this grape makes some of the highest quality white wines in Spain, along with the better-known Albariños. For the most part, Godello can be fairly neutral, causing the flavors to be more of a result from the winemaking itself. The best of these wines are intense, concentrated and well-suited to barrel fermentation. When aged on the lees and in oak, they can exhibit creamy fruit flavors, vanilla notes and a hint of nuttiness. Nothing to rule out here!
This wine is a Godello.
There is little to no Godello grown in Austria, California or France, so we can rule these out.
Although it is thought to have originated in northwest Spain, Godello is also grown in Portugal, where it is known as Gouveio. It's mainly found in the Douro region and is most often blended with other native Portuguese grapes. We know this is a varietal wine and that the best Godello versions come from Spain.
This Godello is from Spain.
Godellos destined for drinking shortly after vintage date tend to be fermented in stainless steel, and show citrus flavors and sleek minerality. Based on the light tannins, creamed apple and vanilla flavors here, I'd say this wine has definitely spent a few years in oak.
This wine is from the 2014 vintage, making it three years old.
We have concluded that this wine is a Godello from Spain, so we can eliminate Austria's Kamptal, California's Sonoma Coast and France's Condrieu.
The only viable options to choose from are Bierzo and Rias Baixas. While they are both in the northwest region of Spain, Rias Baixas is mainly known for Albariño. Bierzo, where Godello is the principal white grape, is the better fit.
This Godello is from Bierzo.
This is the Bodega y Viñedos Castro Ventosa Godello Bierzo Valtuille 2014. It was rated 92 points in Wine Spectator's Oct. 15, 2016, issue and retails for $95. To learn more about Godello and other Spanish wines, read executive editor Thomas Matthews' tasting report, "Spain's New Approach," in the Oct. 15 issue.
Cassia Schifter, assistant tasting coordinator
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