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.