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Visiting the Celtic Paradise of Spain: Tasting at Bodegas Avanthia & Godeval

winetasting and travel notes from visit to Galicia

Valdeorras "The Valley of Gold" The inland parts of Galicia include the lush, green, hilly land of beautiful rivers and streams that remind you of Ireland or New Zealand. in Valdeorras wine production goes back to Roman times but their local varieties nearly died out until they were brought to the world's attention around 1986 through the work of Horacio Fernandez . If you thought Albariño was obscure have you ever tried the red called Mencia or the white from the Godello grape?

      We visited the 13th Century Monastery of Xagoaza where the wines under the Godeval and Avanthia label of Jorge Ordoñez are made and had are daily noonday feast in the banquet hall of the monastery. They served pulpo Gallego, octopus first boiled, then grilled then served with garlic, olive oil, paprika and potatoes. We also had those big langostinos that they call bogavante.

     The hosts besides Jorge were the hardworking enologist/winemaker Alistair Gardner who oversees several white wine projects and Araceli Fernandez del Palacio, vineyard manager and daughter of Horacio Fernandez who began this revival of Valdeorras vines. One thing that struck me throughout our visit to Spain was the lack of terracing on some really steep vineyards. They were pitched as steeply as some Mosel and Douro River sites but with out the steps. Didn't see any terracing in either Valdeorras or Malaga. Strange.

Here are some of our tasting notes:

2009 Godeval Godello

Nose: pineapple, citrus, lime, very ripe tropical fruits hint of chalk. Taste: Minerality kicks in crisp acidity and zingy citrus flavors, excellent in crustacean situations

2009 vs 2010 vs 2001 Godeval Godello: One great thing about this trip was comparing different vintages of the same wine. In this case we had the new release 2010, the current release 2009 and a library bottle 2001 that we found being guarded by a salamander in the cellar. The 2010 had more mango and guava flavors The 2009 had riper flavors of baked apple The 2001 Color had turned gold, acidity was lower and the flavors were more like peach and apricot with hints of honey and gout de petrol.

2010 Avanthia Godello current vintage is 2009 This one is barrel fermented compared to the Godeval Godello which is steel fermented. The Avanthia Godello is the premium wine produced Nose: Baked apple and toffee flavors with citrus, an impressive wine, very much like a Grand Cru Pessac Leognan Some special wines from the red Mencia grape

2010 Avanthia Mencia Rosé I've never seen this wine before the nose has lots of strawberry and cherry drop notes with a fleshy roundness it would be perfect with some blue fin toro and roasted ramps

2010 Avanthia Mencia Cuveé Mosteiro current vintage is 2009 Nose: Cherry, very rip, spice, herb,slate, tobacco, cocoa and toasted bread. Taste: Very supple and smooth ripeness with spice and rhubarb, some herb and spice kicks in at the end.

What to do with 2kg of octopus Speaking to chef he suggested either thaw out a frozen octopus or if it is fresh, freeze and thaw it to tenderize the meat. Then for a 2kg octopus simmer it in barely boiling water for about an hour. Let it sit in the cooking water and come to room temperature. Briefly grill it over wood coals or charcoal and serve with oil, paprika, garlic salt and pepper. Very simple but very good.

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