Tour de Spain: Bierzo
We're hanging out in Northwest Spain again for this post, except this time it's a red wine that I'm going to be talking about! The DO of Bierzo lies on the border of the Galicia region and Castilla y Léon and it has a microclimate that is a mix of the cool, wet region of Galicia and the hot and dry climate of the meseta. It's considerably warmer than its green neighbor, but it still benefits from the cooling influence of the sea.
Bierzo is known for red wines made with Mencia, a grape that does not grow anywhere but Spain. Mencia is often compared to Cabernet Franc or Garnacha because some examples have similar berry notes like cherry and raspberry. However, it produces unique wines that shine when they are sourced from old vines that are grown on the steep slopes of the region's mountain range. The best wines are likely to be concentrated, aromatic, and fruit forward with herbal nuances and a high acidity.
Bierzo is a small region and it was largely unknown to the international wine market until the past couple of decades, so there aren't many producers. 74 to be exact, according to the DO's website! I tasted Abad Dom Bueno Bierzo 2008 and it's made with grapes from vines that between 60 and 80 years of age, which is old vine status. The wine is deeply pigmented and it showed rich, ripe black fruit notes of blackberry, black cherry, and plum that were toned down with oak influences and a really nice herbal quality: vanilla, licorice, tobacco, and mint leaf. It's medium bodied with soft tannins and has an acidity that is initially super apparent, but wanes rather quickly. Overall, it's a good wine and a decent value at $17.99.
Perhaps this is my memory beginning to fail me, I'm halfway to being considered an old vine after all, but I believe this is the first wine from Bierzo that I've tasted and I'm completely sold on the region. I'll definitely be adding Bierzo into my rotation of wines if I come across it often enough. Maybe I'll even make an attempt at tasting wines from every producer in the region since there are *only* seventy-four of them ;)
Which Spanish region would you like to learn more about next, my dear readers?