A little while ago I read about the Wine Bloggers Wednesday (#WBW70) project being restarted and this got me quite excited! The theme for this first Wednesday is Spanish wines and my friends at Catavino suggested to pick something a little out of the ordinary. So instead of looking for a Rioja, a Priorat or Ribero del Duero I decided to venture out and look for something I did not know yet. I found this Mencia from Bierzo at Grape District in Haarlem. The shop had labelled this wine as smooth and velvety, I liked the pretty label (yes I know I am such a girl!!) and was intrigued by the Mencia grape so I bought the bottle.
Once I got home I looked up Menzia in my Grape & Wine book by Oz Clarke and this is his description: “This grape of the North of Spain gives light, fresh, acidic reds with a raspberry and black currant leaf flavour, not unlike a slightly raw Cabernet Franc, and good tannin. It is delicious drunk young and doesn’t need the oak it is sometimes smothered in.” I still was not too sure what to make of the Mencia so when I had some friends over for dinner a few days later I just couldn’t resit opening the bottle. The wine was deep purple in colour with long legs, and showed aromas of lavender, liquorice and dark cherry. It had a good mouth feel, good tannin, great acidity and semi strong favours of blackberry, cherry, liquorice, cedar and some kind of astringency reminding me of strong black tea in the middle palate. We paired the wine with a roast beef, roasted baby potatoes and red onion, sweet baby carrots, broccoli and sautéed Brussels sprouts, and with the food the wine somehow became sweeter and showed more red fruit characters – though none of us got the raspberries. We had some more wine with the cheese platter and decided it paired well with the old Dutch cheese and the Italian Cambozola. I found the wine opened up a lot when left in the glass and think I should have maybe decanted it… I will definitely buy another bottle to try this as I really enjoyed the Bierzo Mencia and at a mere €15 I feel it over delivers!
I liked the fact that the producer’s name is Deciendientos de J Palacios – it intrigued me as was Alvaro Palacios who first put Bierzo on the map according to the World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson. He was fascinated by the slate terraces in the Bierzo region which were so very different from the predominantly clay soils of his Native Priorat and loved the more delicate style of wines which were produced here. I do wonder whether he was related to José Palacios??