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La Vizcaína de Viños (Raúl Pérez), Bierzo Blanco “La del Vivo”

Castilla y León, Spain 2021 (750mL)
Regular price$50.00
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La Vizcaína de Viños (Raúl Pérez), Bierzo Blanco “La del Vivo”

Raúl Pérez will be familiar to many SommSelect subscribers. His Mencía-based reds have been slam dunks with Northern Rhône Syrah and Cru Beaujolais drinkers, while “La Del Vivo” swings the doors of the Pérez fan club wide open for anyone who appreciates a bottle of chiseled Burgundy Chardonnay or salty Assyrtiko. Godello offers a similar marriage of ripe stone and orchard fruit with focused minerality, calling to mind something like great white Burgundy with a citrus twist and a sprinkle of Maldon. Time and again, we’ve discovered Godellos that deliver complexity and deliciousness far beyond the price they command. This bottling, though, pushes the variety out of the “great values” category and straight into the “great whites of the world” discussion.

Raúl Pérez gained international recognition working with his mentor, Alvaro Palacios, on assorted projects throughout Northwest Spain (and beyond), but his home base is Bierzo, which is situated right where the Galicia region gives way to Castilla y Léon. From 1993-2004 he was the winemaker at Castro Ventosa, his family’s historic Bierzo winery, after which he founded his eponymous operation in the same village—Valtuille de Abajo. His family owns about 15 hectares of vineyards in and around Valtuille.

As with the Galician wine zones, Bierzo experiences a cool, wet Atlantic Ocean influence, but as you move eastward, to lower altitudes, the influence of the warmer, drier plains to the east can be felt. At higher elevations, Bierzo’s soils mix slate and granite, transitioning to “alluvial” sand, silt, and clay in lower-lying areas. This wine is sourced from very old vines (80-100 years) rooted in soils of sandy clay.

The cellar work behind this bottle is a lesson in careful winemaking: 80% of the Godello is pressed directly and fermented in “neutral” 500-liter barrels, while the remaining 20% is fermented on the skins for a year in amphorae. And it’s a small miracle that we get to drink it at all: Godello was close to extinction by the middle of the 20th century, but a small band of passionate winemakers have rescued it from obscurity.

In the glass, it’s a pale gold with flecks of silver. It’s a rich and fruit-driven wine, yet also deeply savory. Nectarine, pear, and citrus commingle with fennel while oyster shell minerality soars through it all. The palate is powerful yet weightless, with chamomile and spice notes complicating the orchard fruit and white flower notes. The finish is incredibly long. Served chilled to 45 degrees in Burgundy stems, this would be fantastic with any sort of grilled fish, or even barbecued oysters. 

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