Week 5 – Rafael Palacios, Bolo 2014

IMG_2190When I started to discover Spanish wines, I focused on red under the assumption that white would not be worth the effort. After a couple of years I can admit that I was clearly in the wrong though! Most people probably associate Spanish whites with Rueda and even though this region is responsible for the recent boom in white (going from 35 to 70 million bottles over the past 10 years), there are other regions where white grape varieties can shine.

The name Palacios may ring a bell to lovers of Priorat, in particular as Alvaro Palacios has been named Decanter Man of the Year just a couple of weeks ago. Today however we will focus on his brother Rafael. He used to be responsible for the white wines at the family estate in Rioja but after a visit to Valdeorras (Galicia – just to the left of Bierzo known for its red Mencia-based wines and north of the frontier with Portugal) he was convinced that this was the place to create truly great whites. It is a relatively small region, only about 2000 ha. Production is mainly white and based on Godello, a grape variety unique to Northwest Spain and the North of Portugal (where it’s called Verdelho or Gouveio). The climate in Valdorreas can be described as Atlantic (cooler) as the vineyards are planted relatively high up and sheltered by the mountains. It is a dry region, which allows the strongest vines to survive, but not too hot, enabling a tighter grasp on sugar and alcohol.

Three wines are produced, Bolo, Louro and As Sortes. Today we will focus on Bolo, the entry level wine which is created specifically to show what Godello, without any influence of the vinification, can achieve. Grapes used are either grown at the estate or bought from trusted suppliers. Elevage takes place in stainless steel. The wine is quite expressive on the nose, starting of rather fresh and citrusy but also showing a bit of delicate and ripe fruitiness, lemon and orange zeste in particular. The acidity is quite present at first so we are continuing on freshness, but it opens up on the palate, becoming a bit richer in style. It’s a very pure wine which is why I opted for this one instead of the other two which are oak-aged. This does not however make it a simple wine. The depth as well as the balance between freshness and richness make this a great wine, perfect to drink when it gets warmer, or on a rainy day when you need something to change the mood!

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