More Mencia from Bierzo – Tilenus and Petalos

More from Bierzo in north west of Spain. The district used to be known for light, juicy-jammy and a bit sour and volatile wines. But with new players and a focus on lower yields and old Mencia vines that image is about to change permanently!

At the same time more and more producers are stepping up and showing the world what can be done with the grape. Take Alvaro Palacios, for example, the man who shot Priorat to stardom (read more on Palacios here!). He is now involved in Descendientes de J Palacios with his nephew Ricardo Perez – and the domaine is one of the most interesting in the area.

It was long believed that the Mencia-grape was related to Cabernet Franc – and as I’ve written earlier here in EricssonUncorked and my swedish blog Uppkorkat – the wines can be reminiscent of both Cabernet Franc and Barbera (or a blend of the two!) with quite pronounced acidity and spicy dark fruit.

DNA-testing has instead shown that it is identical to Jaen that is quite common in middle and western Spain and portugese wine region Dão. And you can find Jaen/Mencia in spanish districts like Valdeorras, Ribeira Sacra and Liébana.

Here are two more great Mencia wines from Bierzo!

Petalos 2008 (around €15)
From Descendientes de J Palacios. The wine is made from grapes that come from vines that are between 40 and 90 years old.
Blue-red colour. Spicy aromas with hints of dark berries, oak, leather and herbs. Good concentration on the palate with red and dark berries, liqourice/salmiak, herbs and tobacco. Great value!

Tilenus Pagos de Posada 2004 (around €22)
This wine is made by Bodegas Estefanía and the average age of the vines is 90 years! Low yields, hand harvesting, fermentation in stainless steel and 18 months on french oak!
Dense dark blue-red colour. Warm and earthy smells with hints of game, dark berries, oak/vanilla, leather, dried fruits and spices. Medium-bodied very fresh (a bit acidic) taste of red and dark berries, leather, spices and oak. Good concentration on the palate with elements of chocolate and tobacco!


Bargain Mencia from Bierzo – Tercer Motivo

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!