Rafael Palacios - 'As Sortes Val do Bibei' Godello 2019


As quaffable and enjoyable as Godello can be from Valdeorras, it rarely reaches the level of richness, balance and complexity as it does in the hands of Rafael Palacios. Having left his family’s estate in Rioja in 2004, Rafa settled in the Val do Bibei, a rugged, weathered and off the beaten path sub-zone of Valdeorras. Bordering Ribera Sacra, the Val do Bibei is a tortured landscape of granitic, terraced slopes dotted with hard to reach and hard to farm vineyard plots. Whereas most of the rest of the DO is at lower elevation with limestone and schist soils, Rafa works exclusively with Godello planted on granitic soils at much higher elevations – so high that late Spring snow and frost are ever present dangers to his already low yields. Locally these plots are known as sorte, a word in the local dialect that refers to the practice of drawing lots to determine inheritance. Rafa has assembled 24.5 hectares of vines divided among 32 sorte. Some plots he owns outright, others are on long-term lease. The oldest vines, some nearing a century, are head pruned while the younger vines on more gentle slopes are trellised. The farming is minimalist since the sub-zone is blessed with free draining soils and warm, dry summers. All the vineyard work done by hand, including harvesting.

Made with grapes from our oldest vineyards in property. They are six small ‘sortes’ that were planted in the late 1970's and early 1980's and that Rafael Palacios acquired upon his arrival to the region during the years 2004 to 2007. They are located on the north side of the Bibei Valley, in Santa Cruz do Bolo and at an altitude of over 680 meters. They are vines of the Godello variety with an average age of 40 years, and clones recovered from old traditional vines within the Revival plan (recovery plan of the indigenous vineyard of Valdeorras). Its soils are pure granite sand, not very fertile and with low yields, which produces wines with a marked geo-climatic character and great personality. Viticulture is based on respect for tradition, the use of organic treatments, and the management of the different works within biodynamic agriculture.

The must is fermented in 500 litre oak barrels and aged for 8 months in barrel.

"Sampled from a vat, this is one of the best As Sortes I have ever tasted, comparable to the iconic 2011. It's a prodigy of subtleness and elegance. Everything is firmly delicate in this wine. Restrained aromas open up parsimoniously, with a steely structure like a great Burgundy, but with flinty acidity almost like Grosses Gewächs from Rheingau. Despite the fact that the sample was not yet bottled, the wine had no oak influence, just the indication that it had been aged, as top Godello must. Rafael Palacios is refining his work year after year, reaching the magic of the greatest wines. A top wine, and one to keep. Drinking Window 2020 - 2039." - 98 points, Decanter

"The 2019 As Sortes always wears the subtitle Val do Bibei, which is a specific and different zone of Valdeorras where Palacios has his vineyards. This comes from six small plots or "sortes" planted in the 1970s and 1980s on north-facing terraces at 680 meters in altitude and higher in the village of Santa Cruz do Bolo on poor, low-yielding sandy granite soils worked organically and biodynamically but not certified. The destemmed grapes had a short fermentation in the press, and the juice was put to ferment with indigenous yeasts in 500-liter French oak barrels, where the wine matured with lees for eight months. It's powerful (14% alcohol) and fresh (pH 2.15). It has a captivating and nuanced nose, elegant and subtle, floral and citrus with lots of herbs, faintly balsamic. It has a lively palate with great depth of flavors, perfect ripeness and great harmony. Complex, noble and harmonious, it's a very pretty vintage for this powerful white. 21,200 bottles produced. It was bottled in June 2020." - 96 points, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate


Producer: Rafael Palacios

Country: Spain

Region: Galicia

Varietal: Godello

Appellation: Valdeorras

Vintage: 2019

Size: 750ml