A chef recently asked, “match for crayfish salad John?”
I’d never heard of Godello until a few years ago but now this Spanish grape variety is on most of our wine shelves. Godello is here to stay; it’s easy to pronounce, the wines taste good and, it makes a cracking partner for crayfish salad.
Godello comes from north-west Spain where the vineyard areas of Bierzo, Valdeorras, Ribeira Sacra and Monterrei have taken this ‘new kid on the block’ to heart. Godello thrives in Bierzo amongst the mountains, castles and pine forests of this beautiful vineyard region.
Bierzo is a small, remote ancient region in the north-western corner of the Castilla y León province close to the border with Galicia, (north of the Portuguese border) and is one of Spain’s rising stars. If you want to spend a few days in the vineyards the nearest airport is Vigo on the coast but if fancy walking, the market town of Cacabelos is a well known resting point along the world famous Camino de Santiago. When the pilgrims arrive in Bierzo with blistered feet ‘the end is in sight’ for Santiago de Compostella is just up the road.
Bierzo gained its D.O. (Denominacion de Origin) in 1989 and comprises two zones, Bierzo Alto (high Bierzo), where terraced plots cling to steep slopes and Bierzo Bajo (low Bierzo), the plain below. The vineyards lie between 450 and 1000 metres above sea level their soils varying from the alluvial plain to the prestigious high level slate. The region’s cool climate is a result of the influence of the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Although summer temperatures can be in the mid to high twenty degrees centigrade, winter temperatures as low as four degrees make it no surprise that the clever pilgrim takes to the well trodden path under the springtime sunshine.
The dry, zesty, crisp citrus, apricot and peach flavours of Godella lift the crayfish wonderfully and, somewhat surprisingly, also fight their corner with a citrus dressing.
With more people pooh-poohing many food and wine matches, (I can see where they’re coming from), I think it’s also worth pouring a glass of Bierzo red, made from the little known Mencia grape. I prefer the Godello with the crayfish but let me know what you think. For all my anorak readers; for years it was rumoured that Mencia was related to Cabernet Franc, the red grape of the Loire Valley and Bordeaux but recent DNA tests show that the nearest link is Portugal’s Jaen variety. Don’t worry, I’d never heard of Jaen either!
Bierzo’s reds of old were simple rustic affairs but things have changed as a new generation of winemakers have realised Mencia’s potential to produce bright, black fruit, plum wines.
You may see ‘Crianza’ on the labels of Bierzo reds; this means that the wine must by law be aged for a minimum of 6 months in oak barrels and a minimum of 18 months in bottle before hitting our shelves. ‘Reserva’ means that it must spend at least 12 months in oak and 24 months in the bottle before release.
So, look out for Bierzo, you’ll be well rewarded, especially if you crack open the Godello with the crayfish salad ……. ‘no more waiting for Godello!