New Releases from Bierzo and Méntrida

BieroVino Cava specializes in the wines of emerging regions of Spain and Portugal. We recently tasted several of their imports from Bierzo and Méntrida in Spain. Bierzo is a DO (denominación de orígen) located in mountainous northwest Spain that specializes in wines made from the Mencia and Godello grapes. Mencia is a light red grape that produces elegant wines that are often compared to Burgundy reds. It represents just one percent of all plantings in Spain, but it is 65 percent of all plantings in Bierzo. Godello is a white grape that produces wines that often show minerality and brisk acidity. Méntrida, on the other hand, is in central Spain close to Madrid and Toledo. It’s an area of quite extreme temperatures where Garnacha reigns supreme, although there are also significant amounts of Syrah and other red grapes grown, too.

Wines of Bierzo

Ribas del Cua 2004 Mencia Crianza Bierzo ($21) 90

The Ribas del Cua Crianza is a lovely wine that compares very favorably with wines selling for double its price. Dark ruby with a garnet rim and showing ripe, spicy dark plum and blackberry fruit, it is nicely balanced with an intriguing flavor profile of dark berries, plum and baking space. Oak-aged for 12 months.

Ribas del Cua 2005 Privilegio Mencia Bierzo ($21) 91+

The Ribas del Cua Privilegio is delicious from its red berry, plum, violet, and earth nose to its long, flavorful finish of raspberries and dark chocolate with firm tannic notes. Aged 14 months in new French oak, this elegant wine has a beautifully integrated and lush palate. This is still a young wine, so let it breathe a couple of hours before consuming.

Bodegas Adria 2007 Tres Carros Godello Bierzo ($18) 88

Tres Carros is a medium yellow straw wine made from the Godello (pronounced Go-day-oh) varietal. This is a lovely grape that can yield a delightful combination of brisk acidity and a rich mouthfeel. The wine shows aromas of ripe melon with citrus notes and is clean and dry on the attack with good acidity and a fresh, clean finish. The palate is round with light yellow melon notes. A great wine to sip on a hot summer day.

Wines of Méntrida

Alonso Cuesta 2005 Garnacha-Tempranillo-Cabernet Sauvignon Méntrida ($26) 92

Silky smooth, lush, and concentrated, this Alonso Cuesta red blend is a beautifully balanced wine with gorgeous fruit. Dark ruby with a nose of ripe plum and chocolate mint and a delicious, silky smooth palate of red and black fruit. Lush in the mouth with a long, flavorful finish. This is the type of modern winemaking that produces a fresh, balanced wine. A gorgeous wine, and a bargain at the price.

Finca La Verdosa 2006 Arrayan Selección Méntrida ($18) 89

The opaque ruby Arrayan Selección Méntrida is a well-balanced, fresh tasting wine that offers nicely concentrated dark fruit, earth and spice. The tannins are firm and dry, and the oak is well integrated. A blend of 35 percent Syrah, 30 percent Merlot, 30 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5 percent Petit Verdot. The winemaker is Miguel Angel de Gregorio (of Rioja’s Finca Allende).

Finca La Verdosa 2005 Arrayan Petit Verdot Méntrida ($30) 89

The Arrayan Petit Verdot shows spicy red and black fruit on the nose with a touch of tobacco and vanilla. It’s round and lush on the palate with nicely concentrated black fruit, herbs, and a touch of tobacco. While long on the finish, it reveals big tannins that currently detract from an otherwise excellent wine.

Finca La Verdosa 2004 Arrayan Syrah Méntrida ($30) 90

The dark ruby 2004 Syrah offers aromas of ripe dark red fruit, toasty oak, and a nicely concentrated palate of fresh blackberry with spice and raspberry notes. While ripe and full-bodied, the flavors are still somewhat restrained and will need a bit more time for the wine to realize its full potential.

Written by Don Winkler, May 2010