Papa is an estate-bottled wine produced by Ladera Sagrada in the Valdeorras DO region, located in northwest Spain. The Godello grapes that go into it make Papa a jewel of a wine. Able to age similar to Chardonnay in white Burgundy, Godello is rapidly becoming the most popular white grape in Spain ahead of Albariño and Verdejo. Many top Spanish winemakers and Spanish wine writers believe Godello will be the grape that will put Spanish white wines “on the map.” A grape that can communicate more than fruit, Godello conveys the geography of its place of origin, the aromas and flavors that the soil imparts to the wine. The vineyards farmed to make Papa are full of slate and granite, and the wine shows assertive aromas of rosemary, thyme, and oregano, underscored by a firm mineral character.
WHAT MAKES THIS WINE UNIQUE? This wine is a superb value made from estate owned, organically grown grapes. Ladera Sagrada has the largest holdings of vineyard land in the Valdeorras appellation, and the bodega makes wine using only the best 20% of its grapes. The rest of the given year's harvest is sold in bulk to other neighboring producers. Ladera Sagrada can source the best quality of grapes in Valdeorras and it has the ability to make the best wine values because it doesn't need to buy grapes from other growers. The mineral character of Papa gives the wine a special identity.
RATING HISTORY: 2015 90VM; 2014 90Vinous; 2013 90IWC; 2012 91RP; 2011 90RP & IWC; 2009 90RP; 2008 90RP
GRAPE: 100% Godello. Organically grown vines planted in 1983 (average). Tended in granite, clay and slate soil at an average of 600 m (1,968 ft) elevation. This is a vegan wine.
PAIRING SUGGESTIONS: This fresh, mineral-inflected Godello will pair well with swordfish sautéed in butter and wild herbs, grilled or pan-fried sweet veal or pork sausage, and a host of casual foods like tapas, pasta with white clam sauce or fried oyster sandwiches.
VINIFICATION AND AGEING: After the best bunches are hand picked in the steeply sloped vineyards, the grapes are brought in small 15 kg boxes to the winery for de-stemming and crushing. The unfermented juice macerates on the skins for 8-12 hours. A slow fermentation takes place with the indigenous yeast of the grapes. The wine is fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks without malolactic fermentation.
PRODUCTION: 1,800 cases
LOCATION, SOIL, CLIMATE: The vineyards are located in the autonomous region of Galicia, in far northwestern Celtic Spain, within the Valdeorras DO (Zone 1) in Valdeorras district and within Orense province. The vineyards are in the mountain town of Larouco, at 600 meters (1,968 ft.) elevation. The soil is composed of slate and granite topsoil with a thin clay subsoil. This soil profile is poor in organic matter and the vines yield 2.5 kg (about 6 pounds) of grapes per vine, compared to the average of 7.5 kg (around 17 pounds) per vine in Valdeorras. The surface of the granite and slate soil is warmed by sunlight during the day which provides heat to the roots, and encourages the grapes to continue ripening during the cool nights. Lower yields result in more concentrated grapes providing more intense aromas and flavors in the wines. The area's climate has an average temperature from April-October of 57.2F, among the lowest average temperatures in Spain, with 30.2 inches of yearly rainfall. One of the lowest levels of precipitation in the region, this helps prevent overnight frost. The cool temperatures of this Atlantic-influenced climate (Zone 1) provide a longer ripening period, which results in zesty wines with great aromatic expression.
TASTING NOTES: Light green-hued yellow. Tightly focused lemon and pear scents are complemented by deeper melon and peach notes. Lively and focused on the palate, offering vibrant citrus and orchard fruit flavors and a gingery nuance that adds back-end spiciness. Finishes nervy, energetic and long, featuring lingering suggestions of bitter lemon pith and dusty minerals. -- Josh Raynolds.
All photos: Friederike Paetzold