The mineral and slate-rich mountainous region of Valdeorras is one of Europe’s most exciting white wine regions. No grower’s history is as entirely intertwined with the region or its signature grape variety of Godello as the Prada-Gayoso family.
Back in 1885, at a time when vineyards were planted with multiple varieties, José Ramón Gayoso planted the region’s first 100% Godello vineyard. Today it is the oldest Godello vineyard in the world. This vineyard, named Pedrouzos—with ancient, gnarled vines still in production today—squeezes out a mere 500 litres of precious juice each year to make one of Spain’s most profound white wines.
The Pedrouzos vineyard is the source of all the genetic material in Valdesil’s vineyard holdings. For years, this esteemed vineyard suffered from night-time poachers, who stole cuttings to propagate their own vineyards. It took a confrontation at the local vigneron’s hostelry for the practice to cease!
José Ramón Gayos’s descendants used massale cuttings from the original siteto populate a mosaic of small vineyards, or otherwise called pezas, across the Sil Valley, predominantly around the village of A Portela . These pezas now form the core holdings of the estate. Yet, the Valdesil story does not begin and end with Godello—the indigenous Mencía is also well represented.
In more recent times, Valdesil has continued to act as a regional pioneer in both viticulture and winemaking. The team were the first to introduce vertical shoot positioning, cover crops, strict organic methods and increased planting densities in the area. Valdesil was also among the first to return to natural yeast fermentation and barrel maturation. Current owners Borja and Raul Prada Luengo are also trialling biodynamic methods, a significant undertaking in this cool corner of Spain.
Valdesil wines are products of old vines and low yields, and are naturally fermented, aged on lees and bottled unfiltered. Expect textural, mineral whites with a weight and mouthfeel that resemble quality white Burgundy wines. Valdesil’s Mencías are the kind of juicy, thirst-quenching and mineral-scented reds that wine bars were made for. All the wines offer the kind of finesse, interest and sense of place found only in the wines of the very best grower-producers of northern Spain.