Maturing Bierzo

Guide to ageing Mencia

The wine region of Bierzo, in the NW of Spain now specialises in mid-bodied, interesting reds made from the Mencia grape, some of which are expensive and age worthy, however, the Bierzo region also produces complex whites from Godello as well as sweet and sparkling wines. Once known as a high yield, astringest wine, the last two decades have seen quality skyrocket and Mencia become one of the coolest grapes in the wine world. If youre interested in maturing Mencia in a freestanding wine fridge it's likely your interest will be in the fine Mencia wines from top class producers such a Raul Perez or Descendientes de J. Palacios.

The Mencia grape is a variety of red grape that is native to the northwest of Spain, where it is used in the production of some of the countrys most renowned wines. It is one of the most popular Spanish red grapes, and is widely cultivated throughout Spain, Portugal, and France. The Mencia grape has a long and proud history, with evidence that it has been grown in the region since at least the Middle Ages. It is thought to have been brought to the area by the Romans, and was likely one of the earliest varieties grown in the region. Once thought to be related to Cabernet Franc, generic DNA testing now places this grape as the same grape as Portugal's Jaen.

Mencia is highly versatile and can be used to make a variety of wines. It produces light- to medium-bodied wines with moderate tannins, and can be used to produce both dry and sweet wines. Alternatively, Mencia can produce, in the hands of the very best producers, mid bodied, bold and age worthy wines. It is often used to make cheaper, light-bodied, fruity wines, as well as mid-full-bodied red wines with a long finishMencia wines are typically characterised by aromas of blackberry, cherry, plum, and a hint of spice. They are often described as having a silky texture and a full, balanced flavour.

Some of the more notable Mencia wines have earthy, herbal notes, with an underlying minerality and a hint of spice. The Mencia grape is often used as a blending grape, and is often blended with other Spanish red grapes, such as Tempranillo, Garnacha, and Carignan. It is also used to make small amounts of sparkling and rosé wines (and some sparkling rosé wines too).

Mencia is well-suited to cooler climates, and is often planted in areas with higher altitude and cooler temperatures and thrives in the region around Villafrance del Bierzo - a camino town well known internationally. The grape is also known for its ability to withstand high levels of humidity, making it an ideal choice for regions with higher levels of rainfall. In recent years, the Mencia grape has become increasingly popular, and is now often used in winemaking in other countries, such as Italy, Australia, and the United States. There are now several international wineries that specialise in Mencia-based wines, and it can be found in many wine shops around the world.

The Mencia grape is a great choice for those who are looking for an interesting, versatile red wine and as a good alternative to those who love Pinot Noir but fancy something different.

The unique flavour of Mencia is what makes it such a prized grape. When it comes to tasting Mencia, the aromas of the grape come to the forefront. The nose of the wine can be a blend of blackberry, plum, cherry, and raspberry, with hints of earth and spice. On the palate, the wine is full-bodied and complex, with a smooth texture and a long finish. The flavours range from red and black fruit to dark chocolate, licorice, and herbs. The tannins are moderate and the acidity is balanced.

Due to the complexity of the flavours, Mencia is best enjoyed with food. It pairs well with a wide variety of dishes, including grilled or roasted meats, pastas, and cheeses. The flavour of the grape is also enhanced when paired with other wines such as Tempranillo, Garnacha, and Monastrell. Overall, Mencia is a unique and flavourful grape that is well-suited for a variety of dishes. Its complex flavours and aromas make it a great choice for both winemakers and consumers. If you are looking for a unique and flavourful wine to enjoy with dinner, then Mencia is an excellent option.

What shape bottle does Mencia from Bierzo come in?

The very best, collectable Mencia wines from Bierzo typically come in a Burgundy shaped bottle with sloping shoulders and a wider base than the standard Bordeaux sized bottles. This bottle shape will cause the bottle capacity to reduce as wine fridges are measured and classified in Bordeaux sized bottles. So, for example, if your wine fridge has a capacity of 200 bottles, if it was filled wholly with Burgundy shaped bottles from Bierzo, it would reduce the capacity by around 25-30% to around 130-150 bottles.

Wines of Bierzo

Which wine fridges are best for Mencia/Bierzo wines?

If you collection contains a lot of Burgundy shaped bottles then opt for a Swisscave wine fridge with its MIX shelving. Alternatively, a wine cabinet, with less shelving will allow your maximum capacity to be less compromised than a fully shelf stacked Bordeaux optimised wine fridge.

Can I age and mature Mencia?

The answer to this question largely depends on the quality of the grapes and the winemaking/how long the wine has spent on its skins and in barrel. For example, a still Bierzo white wine, such as a Godello, will generally last for 3-5 years, while a red wine, such as a Mencia or Garnacha, can last for 5-15 years, depending on its tannin levels. When it comes to sparkling wines from Bierzo, they will generally last for up to 3 years, but can last much longer if stored properly. Sparkling wines from Bierzo tend to have a higher acidity level than still wines, which helps to preserve them for longer.

Finally, dessert wines from Bierzo can last for 10-15 years, depending on the grape variety. These wines are made from grapes that are left on the vine longer in order to increase the sugar content and they tend to have a high alcohol content which helps to preserve them. Regardless of the type of wine from Bierzo, it is important to store it properly in order to ensure that it lasts as long as possible. This means storing it in a cool, dark place and keeping it away from sunlight. Additionally, if it is a bottle of sparkling wine, it should be kept upright in order to prevent the pressure from building up too much and causing it to explode and ideally in a wine fridge.

In conclusion, the longevity of a wine from Bierzo can vary significantly depending on the type of wine it is. Still wines will generally last for 3-5 years, sparkling wines for up to 3 years, and dessert wines for 10-15 years. Proper storage is essential in order to ensure that the wine lasts as long as possible.

Which are the best recent vintage in Bierzo?

The best vintages in Bierzo are considered to be: 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Who are the best producers in Bierzo?

Over the last decade, the region has seen an influx of producers who plied their trends formerly in Bordeaux and Burgundy who are creating some of the most exciting wines in the countryThe best known international producer is Descendientes de J. Palacios. Founded in 1998 by Alvaro Palacios and his brother, Pedro, the winery has quickly risen to the top of the Bierzo wine scene. The Palacios brothers are known for their focus on terroir-driven wines, and their best-known wines are their flagship red, "L'Ermita", and their white, "Petalos". Both of these wines showcase the potential of the Mencía grape and have been lauded by critics and consumers alike.

Another well known producer is Dominio de Tares. Founded in 2001 by brothers Benito and Javier Gómez, the winery has quickly established itself as one of the top producers in the region. The winery produces some of the most complex and age-worthy wines in Bierzo, with their flagship red, "Bembibre", and their white, "Godello", both receiving high praise.

La Faraona, founded in 2012 by winemaker Felipe Muñoz is gaining a reputation for excellence, La Faraona has quickly become one of the most sought-after producers in the region. The winery specialises in single-vineyard wines made from Mencía and other local varieties, and their wines are known for their purity of fruit and complexity. Their flagship red, "La Faraona", is a benchmark for the region, and their white, "Garduña", is a classic example of what Bierzo wines can achieve.

The most important producer in Bierzo is Raul Perez, an iconic Spanish winemaker who has been a major player in the Spanish wine industry for over two decades now. He is one of the most acclaimed and respected winemakers in the world, and his wines are renowned for their quality and complexity. Raul Perez was born in Galicia, Spain, in the late 1950s. He earned his degree in oenology from the University of Santiago de Compostela in the early 1980s and has since worked as a winemaker in various wineries in Spain, as well as in France, Chile and Argentina.

His passion for winemaking started at a young age, and he has always been devoted to creating wines that are a reflection of the land, climate and culture of the regions he works in. Raul Perez is best known for his white wines, which are produced from the region’s Albariño and Godello grapes. His Albariño wines are particularly sought-after and have become popular across the world. His Godello wines are also acclaimed, and his blend of the two varieties, known as “Valdeorras”, is one of his signature wines.

His red wines, made from Mencia and Tempranillo grapes, are also highly regarded and have earned him a number of awards. Raul Perez’s wines are made with a combination of traditional and modern winemaking techniques. He uses a combination of concrete and stainless steel tanks, as well as large oak barrels and some of the best oak barrels in Spain. His wines have a unique character, with aromas and flavours that are complex, intense and elegant. Raul Perez has worked hard to craft wines that are a reflection of the terroir of the region, and his passion and attention to detail have earned him a reputation as a master winemaker. Raul Perez has won numerous awards and accolades throughout his career.

In 2010, he was inducted into the Spanish Academy of Gastronomy and in 2012 he was named a Knight of the Order of Merit of Spain. He has also been recognized by the International Wine Challenge, the Decanter World Wine Awards, the International Wine Review and the Peñin Guide, among others. Raul Perez’s wines are available in many countries around the world, including the United States, Canada, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and other European countries. They are also available online, though prices can vary depending on the vintage and the region. Raul Perez’s commitment to quality and passion for winemaking have made him one of the most respected winemakers in the world.

What is the drinking window for Mencia?

The best wines from the Mencia grape are known for producing bold and flavourful wines with a unique character and intense aromas of blackberry, plum, and spice. The wines are typically mid-full-bodied with a juicy acidity and moderate tannins, making them incredibly versatile and able to be paired with a wide range of dishes.

So, what is the drinking window for Mencia wines? Generally speaking, most Mencia wines are meant to be consumed within the next three to five years of their vintage date. That being said, there are some older Mencia wines that can be enjoyed for much longer. For example, some producers make older wines that will continue to improve over the course of a decade or more. When it comes to buying Mencia wines, its important to check the vintage date to make sure its within the ideal drinking window. Also, be sure to read the back label for any additional information about the wine, such as the recommended drinking temperature, food pairings, and storage instructions.

In terms of storage, Mencia wines should be kept in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight and vibration. They should also be stored horizontally to keep the cork moist, which will help preserve the quality of the wine. Overall, Mencia wines are incredibly versatile and can be enjoyed within three to five years of their vintage date, depending on the producer and the wine. With proper storage and care, some Mencia wines can even be enjoyed for up to a decade or more. So, if youre looking for a unique and flavourful wine to enjoy, Mencia might just be the perfect option for you.

Sarah newton

Author - Sarah Newton

Sarah Newton has worked in the wine industry for two decades holding senior positions at some of the UK wine industry's leading brands. The MD of Coolersomm, Sarah is WSET certified and our lead wine buyer too.