Looking for a solid mencia wine producer from Bierzo Philippines wine supplier Manila wine shop discusses wine by the grape variety Mencia

December 14, 2010

La Mano Mencia Roble 2007
Indigenous. That’s the word that makes me try a new wine even if it means spending more than I had planned. Want to taste a region as opposed to a grape? That’s the charm of drinking wines that are pretty much only made in a specific region of the world. In this case, the region is Bierzo and the grape is mencia, and luckily it is quite affordable.

As sexy as he whole native species thing is, the fact that this grape has been compared to cabernet franc by some made it a no brainer in my early wine explorations. When I had my first mencia I was on a Spanish wine kick as well which pretty much made try as many as could.

If you’re looking for a solid mencia producer from Bierzo with more than twenty bucks to throw down there’s no need to look further than Descendientes de J. Palacios to find a solid example. Fortunately there are still many fine examples of mencia under $15 worth seeking out for their easy drinking, straightforward and honest red fruit and violet aromas. One of my favorites was this Pucho I used to buy at Astor Wines.

That being said, when I came across this $10 bottle at a local wine shop with a sign that said it had earned a 90 point score from someone, I was curious to say the least. Now I’ve had some clunkers before so I wasn’t completely convinced I was going to be satisfied especially when I saw that the 90 points came from Wine Advocate which is not usually my guide for interesting honest wines.

Ruby red in color with aromas of dried cherries, leather and violets, this wine was lighter in body than what I was expecting. Its smooth tannins and balanced acidity left me with the impression that this wine is pleading for a place at the dinner table. This wines most endearing quality was its balance and grace. It’s one that you’d want several bottles of over the course of a meal.

Abad Don Bueno Roble 2003
I’ve been seduced by the Mencia grape in the past. It was probably the comparisons to Cabernet Franc that motivated earlier purchases. My Spanish wine kick also fueled my interest in an unpopular grape that hails from Bierzo, Spain. It generally grows on high altitude hillsides and has been known to bring spicy notes as well as gentle red fruit flavors.
This Mencia wine was just begging to leave the shelf last week at Premier Wines in Buffalo. With a price under $10 and a 90 point review by one of those magazines, it seemed to be a good pick. In appearance this wine wasn’t what I was expecting, the purple hue was inky and dark. The aroma was mainly of plum, blackberry and clove, with little else to mention. I got some nice dark fruit flavors that quickly faded and gave way to just a mouth full of palate killing tannins. Just to dry and clumsy for my taste. Damn I miss the selection of NYC wine stores. My grade: C-
Castro Bergidum Mencia Roble 2002
Castro Bergidum Mencia Roble 2002
Spain, Castilla Leon, Bierzo ($10)
Scouring my new favorite neighborhood wine store, I found this Mencia based Spanish wine from Bierzo. I’ve already tried and bought a few bottles of the Pucho Menica wine I talked about here. When I came across this one I thought I’d try another since I liked the other version. This one is 100% pure and aged for 5 months in new French and American oak. The label leaves much to be desired, in fact I think it’s the least eye catching label I’ve ever bought. The tiny emblem on the label is hard to make out, but it’s three men in loin clothes joining hands and dancing. It’s no Matisse. My theory of Spanish wines having the coolest labels does not apply to this one.
The nose consists of ripe dark berry fruit with some licorice. The fruit on the palate just wasn’t bold enough. Tasted “thin” and watery. The finish is quick and uninspiring. Definitely not as good as the other Mencia I had. My grade: C
I do my best drinking in the morning.
It’s 10:50 am, Saturday. It’s freezing outside yet sunny — perhaps the coldest day of the year so far, and my girlfriend and I share the unspoken thought of not leaving the apartment. As I map out my eating schedule for the rest of the day, she says “Let’s drink some wine. Is there anything we can open?” I immediately go back into food thoughts. Linguine with meat ragu would be a tasty lunch, and I do have sauce I could thaw. If that’s not a meal that wants red wine, I don’t know what is. I figure I better open it before lunch so it can breathe and open up.
So I’ve rationalized opening a bottle of wine before 11 am. What do I open? Well, I’ve got many Italian bottles that aren’t all that cheap, some I’m holding, and some that I’m saving for special occasions. Then I recalled a bottle that I purchased for no other reason than to taste it before Monday, the first day of all wines being 25% off at Astor Wines, and see if I want to buy a few at the discount price. My palate is fresh in the morning, so why not begin the day with red teeth and a smile?
The wine I chose is another from the value country of Spain. More specifically Bierzo in the Northwestern area that is a part of Castilla y Leon. What drew me to these parts was that reoccurring theme in my wine ramblings, Cabernet Franc. Apparently, once again another grape was either misidentified as or thought to be a clone of this grape, and this time it’s a grape called Mencia. Most think that this grape makes fruit-driven light reds in the beaujolais style, but it turns out, in the right hands and soil, it can deliver bordeaux qualities, but more commonly, characteristics of the Rhone Valley.
Bodegas Pucho Mencia 2003
Spain, Bierzo ($13)
From Bodegas Pucho, this wine was grown and made in the Cantabrian Mountains, at elevations of around 1700 or 1800 feet. According to some in the know, the vines grown in the hills lead to wine with much more structure than the fruity, valley-grown vines in the area. The vines are between 40 to 80 years old and the soil is clay ferrous hillside. It’s fermented in steel tanks for 12 months and aged in the bottle for 6 months before release.
Ruby red color. Red berry fruit driven nose. Smooth flavors of plum and cherry with a satisfying mineral quality. The taste that hits you first is reminiscent of a Cab Franc, a lively burst of fruit and minerals. The finish reminds me of a good Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, with an almost tart cherry finish. It stood up well against my rich meat ragu, and I think it would go well with lighter dishes from chicken to pork. Taking a page from Taj of The Cork and Demon, I am going to do a superhero match to this wine…Spiderman. Not dark and mysterious like Batman, not muscular like Superman, but agile and clean cut with the ability to charm Kirsten Dunst. My grade: B+

Source: http://waterintowino.typepad.com/water_into_wino/mencia/index.html

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