If you love wine, Spain is a great country to explore. The country has more acreage under vine than any other country. Not only is there a ton of wine made here but there is a ton of high quality wine made here. Spain is also a food lover's paradise. Many of the wines made in Spain are made with indigenous varietals that work perfectly with the tasty foods from around the various regions. Grapes like Verdejo, Albariño and Tempranillo and today’s grape Mencía perform best when grown in their native home.
Mencía is a varietal that is indigenous to Spain and Portugal; in Portugal it is called Jaen. Most of it is grown in the Northwest corner of the Iberian Peninsula. It is a very aromatic variety and I have heard it described as a hypothetical cross of Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc or even Spanish "Bourgogne Rouge.” Over the last few years, as Mencía has gained some popularity in the United States, I have tasted a fair amount of this grape and have had varying degrees of interest. The less expensive options tended to be a bit too tart while the more expensive wines I tasted were well made but the price was a bit too high for a lesser-known varietal. I did not think they would generate much interest. Last year we offered Losada Vinos de Finca, which is made with the Mencía grape. It had a great response from our email and has sold well on its own at our stores. When the new vintage became available, I was anxious to taste it and then offer it again to you.
Losada Vinos de Finca was established in 2004 with the goal of making wine from Bierzo in a newer modern style. For some time, they sought out top vineyard sites with old vine Mencía planted on clay soils. The grapes are all sustainably farmed and harvested by hand at Losada. Once in the winery, the juice from various vineyard plots is vinified separately to better understand each location and then aged in French oak barrels. The winemaking is very "hands off" as winemaker Amancio Fernandez Gómez says, “Our philosophy is to respect the environment and make elegant wines.” Gómez uses as little oak as possible to keep the wines pure and fresh while retaining the varietal character of the Mencía grape.
This week’s featured wine is Losada Bierzo Mencía 2018. This is a perfect red wine to enjoy with or without food. You have the softness and elegance of a good Pinot Noir but with bigger aromatics and the denser color of Cabernet Franc, all ending with some crushed stone on the finish. This will stand up to richer foods like a marinated pork loin or duck but would also not overpower grilled vegetables or mushroom risotto. It is a wine that should age well for another five years but is also delicious right now, so why wait! As the weather slowly warms up, this can be chilled slightly and will still offer all the flavors above.
For those who have never tasted this varietal before, grab a bottle and let us know what you think!
"Elegantly floral and spiced with a flavorful, fresh finish" - James Sucking (February 2021)
90 Points - Wine Spectator "Sleek tannins envelop the dark cherry and damson plum notes of this mouthwatering, medium-bodied red, with undertones of graphite, tar, savory spice and bay leaf that lend to an elegant, savory finish. Drink now through 2026. 10,000 cases made, 1,500 cases imported."
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