My love affair with the Mencia grape is officially out of control. Tasting through more of these wines at Toro (which is by the way Ken Oringer’s restaurant serving very serious food in a relaxed but energy charged atmosphere…sitting on my top ten all-time list for “simply delicious” and a winning choice for Beantown foodie indulgence) convinced me that my first few experiences with these wines from Bierzo and Ribeira Sacra were representative of how well the grape generally performs. It’s hard to describe, but Mencia appears to combine the ability to offer up classically structured red wine with flashy richness and old world earthiness at an early age without seeming overly extracted or too alcoholic.
At Toro this week, two more Mencia based wines rose to my hit list. The first, 2007 Losada, was the more immediately alluring of the pair. Coming from vines in the 50-80 year range, the wine was BLACK in color and gave aromas of licorice, raw meat, flowers, cigar box, and burning embers. If that does not grab your attention, the flavors of rich deep black cherries are accompanied by a mouthfeel that is pure silk without a single hard edge and you are amazed that such a soft package can taste so thick and carry such a big stick. This wine is just too exciting, hitting high notes and low notes in a symphony of expression. I don’t know how long it will last in the cellar or how much better it can get and considering the round softness of the wine today I would not feel bad about drinking up now. This wine sells for between $20-$25 retail but I can not find it anywhere. Please let me know if you can source some, I am an eager buyer!
This next wine, Jose Palacios’ 2007 Petalos, is also composed of 100% Mencia fruit from older vines. This is a more classically styled wine of significant depth and a nose of perfumed flowers, rich berries, and creosote. The wine is loaded and packed for the ages with a tremendously rich and long finish. I do think this wine, while showing so well now, should improve on its way to maturation and will show more pretty flavors at advanced stages when it might also reveal even more about its terroir. You will need to restrain yourself, but lay some down now for 5-10 years later. It should be easy to find this wine in the $20 range since it is widely available right now.