Through the Grapevine

Naples' Three60 Market introduces a white wine from a family-owned Spanish vineyard experimenting with the little-known godello grape.

BY August 31, 2020

Three60 Market’s wine shop pulls double duty: in addition to being a retail hub, it serves as a wine list for the market’s adjoining bistro, thanks to the restaurant’s generous BYOB policy.

This unique setup keeps wine director Donna Leahy on a compelling quest to find wines that excite customers with a “drink now” and “drink later” mentality. The shopping environment also allows Leahy to speak with customers longer than the customary time a sommelier gets tableside. She likes to select wines that introduce wine lovers to producers, regions and grapes that are outside of their comfort zone.

In this vein of discovery, Leahy is currently excited about a grape that is far from any of the marquee names in white wine: godello—and specifically, Bodega Emilio Moro’s La Revelía, from Spain’s Bierzo appellation. “It has intense aroma of stone fruit and an herbaceous note,” Leahy says. “On nose and palate, it almost drinks like a white Burgundy.”

She credits the lees aging­—where the wine spends time aging with yeast cells—as contributing complexity and nuance. The wine is especially well-matched for seafood dishes. Leahy says the fruit complements the sweetness of the fish and mango pico de gallo in Three60’s grouper filet, while its round texture pairs well with the creamy spiny lobster pasta.

The wine is the first foray for the family-owned Bodega Emilio Moro into Bierzo and working with the godello grape. The estate has deep roots in Ribera del Duero, a prominent wine region in Northern Spain, and like most wineries in the area, specializes in the red grape tempranillo.

Starting in the 1920s, the family made what they dubbed “homemade wine,” according to Alberto Medina Moro, the U.S. sales manager for his family’s winery. Sometimes they sold it to their neighbors, but for the most part, it was everyday wine meant for family consumption. All that changed in the 1980s, when the third generation formally set up a winery, focusing on elevating the quality of the family’s offerings to be on par with international exports.

After several decades, the family decided to add white wine to their offerings and opted to go beyond the expected. The Bierzo region—and godello grape—intrigued them, Moro says.

They started small; renting space in a friend’s winery and buying some fruit from farmers while they established their own vineyards. Bodega Emilio Moro is making two white wines as part of the Bierzo project, El Zarzal and La Revelía. For the latter, they source grapes from steeper, higher-elevation sites, noting Bierzo is similar to Burgundy in that some of the best grapes come from the mid-slope.

Quantities are small—only about 15,000 to 20,000 bottles are produced every year—and the family continues to refine the style. The first vintage (2016) reflected newer oak, but as the barrels lose their oak character through continual use, the wine will move closer toward their vision of the grape—balanced with the acidity and fruit, plus the roundness and structure provided by the oak. They avoid using malolactic fermentation, in which the grape’s natural tart malic acid turns to milder lactic acid, to maintain the crisp acidity, but allow the lees aging, which imbues the wine with a beautiful texture.

To Moro, godello is like a Venn diagram for albariño, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc, pulling aromatic and flavor characteristics from each but melding qualities, along with the grape’s terroir, into something unique.

And this vision of singularity is what drew the family to godello in the first place. Grapes like riesling, gewürztraminer and albariño “have a personality by themselves, but godello speaks more about the place and the winemaking,” Moro says.

He also notes that the grape  surprises with a quality one might not expect from such an approachable variety: ageability. Although it’s a delicate grape, godello “makes really elegant wines with really high acid, but with nice richness and mouthfeel.” All of this contributes to its capacity for aging.

Much like how godello reflects a sense of the place where it is grown, Three60 Market is very much about its local roots. Recently, the venue took on a role in the community beyond wine purveyor: the 50,000 Meals Fund, started by owners Rebecca and Nancy Maddox, endeavored to raise $500,000 to provide 50,000 meals for members of the area who were in need or lost jobs due to COVID-19. We’ll raise a glass to that.


Photography by Brian Tietz and Courtesy Bodega Emilio Moro

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