I’d been waiting for months for this wine from Bierzo to reappear on the shelves. I discovered it during a tasting on Spain’s “emerging” wine regions, where this cuvée made from 100% mencia, an almost-forgotten grape variety apparently related to cabernet franc (or maybe Portugal’s jaen – it’s unclear), was a star of the evening. It’s also made by a star, Alvaro Palacios, who has been central in reviving the fortunes of the Priorat region over the last two decades.
I wasn’t disappointed. This dark, purple wine was bursting with aromas of spice, red meat, dark fruit (plum, especially). Despite a fairly high 14% alc./vol., the wine feels suprisingly fresh, thanks to a lively acidity and soft, ripe tannins. This is a sun-filled, solid drink, yet one with considerable suppleness and complexity. At around 20$ a bottle, it’s quite a deal, too.
What the lovely, very simple label doesn’t tell you is that the wine comes from biodynamically-grown, 60- to 100-year-old vines, low-yielding and deeply-rooted in slate. Palacios is somewhat of a pioneer in that regard too, in the world of Spanish winemaking.
It’s also a nice match with turkey, a meat pie, cheese or game, making it a lovely candidate for Christmas meals. You can also buy a case and keep it until the summer season of grilling comes around again. But can you resist it long enough to wait until then? I’m not sure I can…