Spanish Bierzo is hot! Hot as in “hyped” and “in vogue”. A decade ago few outside Spain had heard of the place and even fewer connected it with quality wine. Now some of the countrys leading producers (for example Alvaro Palacios via his Descendientes de J Palacios) are setting their sights on Bierzo and the wines are intriguing!
And the reason? A highly individual grape and stunning old vineyards makes Bierzo one of Spains most interesting wine districts right now. Mencias acidic and fruit-concentrated flavours can be a little hard to come to grips with. I used to find the wines a bit too acidic and volatile – but that has changed over the past few years.
Now the best wines combines freshsness, green notes and minerality with deep concentrated fruit-flavours and a good tannic structure. The best examples taste a bit like a cross between Cabernet Franc and Barbera (Mencia is actually identical to Portugals Jaen – not Cabernet Franc as was once thought). But prices are high – so when this wine came my way it was a welcome addition and a great bargain.
Tercer Motivo Mencia 2007 (around €10) comes from Bodegas Neo which is located in Ribera del Duero. But hte Tercer Motivo is of course 100 percent mencia from Bierzo. The average age of the vines that form the basis of the grapes to this wine is 60 years and the wine has spent 15 days on it’s skins and has been aged in barrel for 6 months (60 percent french and 40 percent american oak).
Dark blue-red colour. A bit closed on the nose with dark berries, minerals, oak and vanilla. Medium-bodied spicy taste of dark berries (blackberries and plums), herbs and oak/vanilla. The wine got the characteristic harshness of the Mencia grape with quite pronounced tannins and acidity – but that harshness is balanced with generous fruit. Drink now or keep up to 5 years!