Bierzo, Spain. 13%
It’s not everyday that I get to try a wine I’ve never tried before, from a region I’ve never tried before, and a grape variety I’ve never tired before – indeed I’d never even heard of this region or grape variety before. Wow ! Gives one hope that the wine world is still a long way from turning into lake of chardonnay.
Bierzo is in the North West of Spain, “a widening of the Sil River ringed by snowcapped peaks”, rather high altitude. There was supposed to be a rather large lake here once, but drained by the Romans to access mineral riches (ie gold).
Mencia is the local grape, and is the basis of this wine. Introduced by the Romans, and perhaps the precursor to Cabernet Franc (not that that thought gives much insight into what the wine tastes like). This is made from vines 60+ years old.
It’s still a dark fresh colour, reflecting the fine vintage in Spain. Distinctly Spanish styled (charred) American oak aromas, not vanillin old style Rioja but savoury Ribera Del Duero style. The palate is foreign, it’s slightly off-putting to try a totally unfamiiar grape variety, a little bit of one’s (evolutionary) brain says “perhaps something’s wrong”. It’s rich, brambly, savoury with a stamp of acid on the finish. Rather good, concentrated and elegant. Drinking with food now but possibly better in a couple of years time.