2016 Rafael Palacios Godello As Sortes

Year: 2016
Appellation: Valdeorras
Country: Spain
Wine Spectator: 93
Wine Advocate: 95
Jeb Dunnuck: 95
White Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 14.0%
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"This white is rich and vibrant. Electric acidity fuels ripe flavors of pineapple, mango and tangerine, while mineral and ginger notes add interest. Expressive and energetic. Godello. Drink now through 2022. 280 cases imported. -TM" (WS)

"As my tasting routine takes me to Valdeorras every 16 months or so, sometimes I have two vintages of the most relevant wines to taste side by side. Such was the case with the 2016 As Sortes, which I tasted next to the following 2017 vintage. 2016 was a slow-ripening year with a dry harvest that allowed for perfectly ripe grapes while maintaining very good levels of freshness. It fermented and matured in 500-liter oak barrels for some six to seven months. This has to be the finest vintage for As Sortes, and they seem to have been on a roll since 2012. The growing cycle was almost perfect and allowed for perfect ripeness of the grapes, which were harvested in the second half of October, very late (they finished on the 4th of November). The grapes achieved full flavors through slow ripening and kept the acidity. It has a sense of balance and symmetry with great precision and purity. There are subtle aromas of apricots and yellow plums and a twist of aromatic herbs intermixed with notes of wet granite. The palate has great intensity of flavors and is superbly balanced, long and tasty, with the signature saltiness on the finish. 32,000 bottles were filled in July 2017.

Rafael Palacios works 32 plots of old-vine Godello in the Bibei Valley of Valdeorras. In 2016, the spring was cold and wet like yesteryear, and we can talk about a classic year, with a late ripening of healthy grapes that delivered fresh wines with good acidity that provides great aging potential. 2016 seems to be a great harvest, with perfect phenolic ripeness, as the grapes ripened very slowly and very late. As for 2017, the natural concentration provided by the low yields resulted in unusual power with vibrant acidity that also experimented with the effect of the concentration. They did two harvests that were almost one and a half months apart. The first harvest included grapes from the vines that didn't suffer a 100% loss from the frost, which delivered an early, small, ripe and concentrated crop. The plants that had to start again from scratch were harvested much later, and thus, the second harvest included the grapes that were a second sprouting that happened after the frost. If the average production is around 260,000 bottles, in 2017 they only produced 140,000, as almost half of the crop was destroyed by frost. Two years to follow up in bottle. I didn't taste anything from 2018, but it has also been a challenging vintage, with mildew that decimated around 40% of the volume of the harvest. Despite the challenging conditions, their vineyards are all being certified organic, and three of their plots-O Soro, Sorte Antiga and Sorte Souto (where they are trying to produce a sweet wine)—are also being certified biodynamic by Demeter. In the future, all plots that provide grapes for As Sortes should also be certified by Demeter.

I found the wines to be very pure, serious and a little closed and reticent, as they took time to open up in the glass and evolve very slowly. They seem to have gained precision in the last few years, and they reckon it's through viticulture, working organically and removing all the chemicals that had been used in the vineyards before they took them over. They have not really reduced the amount of oak, but it feels much better integrated. They have also been able to reduce the amount of sulfur used on the vines. This is one of the best white wine-only projects in Spain." (WA)

"From higher elevation, granitic and sandy soils in the Bibei Valley, the 2016 As Sortes is 100% Godello that spent seven months in 20% new 500-liter French oak. Made by the youngest of the nine children in the Palacios family, it's a seriously impressive wine that has depth, balance and class, offering white flowers, citrus, salty minerality, white peach and hints of Meyer lemon. Rich, nicely concentrated, balanced and beautifully layered on the palate, with building richness, it's unquestionably the finest Godello I’ve ever tasted and well worth seeking out." (JD)