A mid-weight, stylish Spanish red with loads of freshness and elegance. Deeply coloured with intense aromas of violet, rose petals, blackberry, pepper and earth. Chill lightly and serve alongside tuna tartar, saucy BBQ chicken or grilled beef tenderloin.
A relatively obscure grape only a decade ago, Mencia has become increasingly popular, even trendy, to both oenophiles and more casual drinkers alike. You’re most likely to find examples from the Bierzo region in Spain’s northwest Galacia district. Prior to its recent renaissance, the grape suffered a reputation for making light, almost diluted wines lacking in character and presence. This had more to do with economics than anything, as struggling growers preferred to plant on fertile plains where high yields produced mediocre results. The best examples hail from steep, schist-based soils, where exposure and old vines combine to create wines with both freshness and intensity. They tend to be deeply coloured, supple and loaded with red fruit character and floral nuance. The best examples come from cooler sub-zones and micro-climates.
Located in the heart of Galacia, Ribeira Sacra is one of Spain’s oldest and most obscure wine regions, known for its dramatic, deep valleys and extremely steep, terraced vineyards that cut through its many rivers and tributaries. Ribeira Sacra is home to a wide array of indigenous grape varieties, chief among them for whites being Alberino and Godello (the real star of the region). Red grapes include obscure varieties like Brancellao, Merenzao and Souson, along with the most planted and well known, Mencia. The geologic landscape varies greatly, with schist, granite and slate the most prevalent soil types. Vineyard sites in the region’s west are heavily influenced by the Atlantic ocean and its moderating climatic effect. As you move east and inland, the climate becomes more traditionally Continental. In general, climatic conditions here make grape growing a somewhat difficult process. When combined with naturally low yields and necessary ‘heroic viticulture’, Ribeira Sacra vineyards are labour-intensive and costly to manage. But the results can be well worth the expense, with the very best wines offering a rare combination of freshness, power, elegance, fruit intensity and complex savoury intrigue. They are at their best at the table alongside a variety of fare, Spanish and otherwise.
Sourced from the north-facing Parada de Sil vineyard, located 300-350 meters above sea level. Old vines are planted on very pool, decomposed granite sub-soil called ‘xabre’. Here the Mencia ripens slowly, giving it a fresh character, with plenty of balancing acidity and mild, silky tannins.
Hand-sourced, de-stemmed and vigorously sorted in the early hours of the morning. The grapes are crushed and fermented on skins for 10 days with gentle pumping over. 8 day post-ferment maceration to gain colour and complexity. Aged in tank for 6 months prior to bottling.
Founded in 1898, Ponte da Boga is Ribeira Sacra’s oldest winery. Purchased in 2006 by the Rivera family, they’ve refocused their efforts on growing and vinifying ancient, autochthonous regional varieties. Notably among them being Godello, Mencia and the ultra-rare, Merenzao. Their 33 hectares of vineyards are found surrounding the canyons of rivers Sil, Mino and Edo. The majority of plots are found on dizzyingly steep slopes where ‘heroic viticulture’ is necessary: worked by hand using harnesses, sometimes accessed only by boats from the river. Their oldest vines date to over 100 years, and all are farmed by hand according to the concept of integrated management: using natural preventative measures to keep the vines healthy and pest-free. The wines are fresh and elegant, with a subtle complexity and exceptional drinkability.