When talking about Spanish red wines, Tempranillo and Garnacha are probably the two grapes that will come to mind automatically. But hidden in the northwestern corner of Spain, specifically in regions of Bierzo, Valdeorras and Ribera Sacra, we can find a unique native red variety: Mencía. This grape has been intriguing wine lovers around the world with its fascinating aromas of sour cherry, pomegranate, violets and crushed gravel. Offering medium body, high tannic content, medium acidity, and deep color, Mencía is also quickly becoming a favorite dinner companion.
Most Mencía is vinified as a young wine with minimal oak aging. Take for example Cuatro Pasos, which is fermented in stainless steel and aged only 2 months in used oak barrels to preserve its rich red berry and floral flavors. World renowned winemaker Alvaro Palacios ages his Petalos de Bierzo for eight months in oak barrels to add a hint of spiciness to his award winning Mencía. However, many winemakers like to emphasize the grape’s ability for extended aging. Bodegas Valtuille produces Pago de Valdoneje Viñas Viejas using Mencía from 100-year-old vines with 12 months aging in new barrels, resulting in a wine with concentrated aromatics of sweet spices, blackberries and tea leaves.
Try younger versions with a simple Serrano and Manchego plate; or enjoy the aged Mencías with robust slow cooked short ribs. Regardless of if you are looking for a young, fruity wine or a more complex, concentrated red, Mencía has an option for every palate.
Author: Maytte Rivera