Mencia, Spain’s Answer to Pinot 3-17-24

Consejo Regulador de la Denominación de Origen Bierzo
Vineyards in Bierzo

5% off any 6-11 in-stock Mencia wines
10% off any 12 or more in-stock Mencia wines
Sale ends Wednesday March 20th at 9AM PST

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The wines featured below are all wines included in the sale.

Spain is a much more diverse wine country than many people make the effort to realize. Beyond the famous muscular reds of tempranillo in Rioja and Ribera Del Duero and the luscious garnacha and monastrell of Priorat, Navarra, and Castilla La Mancha, there are beautiful varieties which offer a completely different red wine experience. For instance, all you have to do is look a little West, and look a little higher in altitude. What you’ll find is a grape that mimics the delicacy and finesse of pinot noir, with fruity aromas that can also beguile the wine drinker seeking richer flavors. There’s distinctive notes of exotic florals and black pepper, but in a higher toned fashion than what you’d find in Syrah. Introducing Mencia!

Mencia’s parentage is in the obscure Portuguese grapes of Alfrocheiro and Patorra. Indeed, the variety is grown across the Western edge of the Iberian Peninsula, finding delicious expression in both nations but perhaps its peak in the regions of Ribeira Sacra, Bierzo, and Valdeorras. There, the mountainous terrain and granitic/schist soils add a mineral undertone to the wine, balancing it’s floral fruity flavors with structural integrity.

Alvaro Palacios (an esteemed name from Priorat you may well know) along with a few other vintners restored the variety’s appeal in the 1990s by reclaiming old vine vineyards in Bierzo and Ribeira Sacra and implementing modern fine winemaking approaches in the vineyard and the cellar to coax the best out of it. Today the grape is appreciated by sommeliers and Spanish wine drinkers all across the globe, with fortunes looking positive for this fresh, aromatic grape to continue occupying a spotlight in the zeitgeist of softer, more acid driven reds.

At your disposal courtesy of Vinopolis are a wide selection of Mencia wines curated from several high quality producers. These wines are always a fantastic value, and in the case of Palacios’ single vineyard bottlings, you have a rare chance to taste the very best of the best. Until 9AM PST on Wednesday we’ll have these wines on discount for you and I’d recommend placing an order early before they get gobbled up.


Available Mencia Wines:

One of the hottest producers on the wine geek market, Raul Perez is occupying wine lists all over the world with his supremely elegant and aromatic expressions of mencia.

Raul Perez Ultreia Saint Jacques, Bierzo 2021 750ml $22.50 special, 19 bottles available

Wine Advocate 93 points “The biggest volume of the winery is the 2021 Ultreia Saint Jacques, which represents some 170,000 bottles, and according to Raúl Pérez, it’s the most difficult wine to make here. They now work a lot to produce this wine, a blend of 11 wines selected from the 17 they made. It’s a wine that represents Bierzo and is from a year when they used more grapes from sandy soils. It has 13.16% alcohol and a pH of 3.66; it’s serious and restrained but juicy and easy to drink. Seventy percent of the wine matured in barrel and the rest in troncoconic oak vats.”
Raul Perez Ultreia de Valtuille, Bierzo 2016 750ml $99.95 special, 4 bottles available
Wine Advocate 96+ points “There are only 1,000 bottles of the 2016 Ultreia Valtuille (the new name, as all labels have been simplified and cleaned up, and some of the names have even been shortened). The crop was greatly reduced because of mildew, and the grapes are a lot more concentrated, with more tannin and structure, and they had to do a much longer élevage, up to 24 months in barrique. Despite its concentration and power, it has great freshness and perfume. You don’t find excess tannin, and it seems like the time in barrel has really polished the edges. It’s really outstanding.”

La Vizcaina by Raul Perez La Vitoriana Tinto, Bierzo 2016 750ml $41.90 special, 9 bottles available
Wine Advocate 96 points  “The vines at La Vitoriana are from a north-facing part of the vineyard and are extremely old, and the grapes show their best between 13% and 13.5% alcohol. The maceration of the 2016 La Vizcaína La Vitoriana is the longest of all wines from La Vizcaína wines, and it always has very strong balsamic notes. It’s subtle and elegant with a velvety texture, with lots of energy and inner strength. Pérez selects about half of the vineyard, and he feels 2016 is the year that best represents the character of the place. I’d add it’s probably the best vintage so far. 3,000 bottles produced.”

Ricardo Perez just can’t make bad wine. Everything this estate touches turns to gold and is supported by some of the top winemaking in Spain. Their Bierzo bottlings are structured with lots of velvety texture that speaks of long ageability.

Descendientes de J. Palacios Moncerbal, Bierzo 2020 750ml $149 special, 6 bottles available
Wine Advocate 97 points   “I find the 2020 Moncerbal a little more closed than the other 2020s, darker and serious. It’s still moderately ripe, with 13.8% alcohol, sweet tannins and a soft texture. Today, it shows a little austere and very calm?????it whispers. It’s quite discreet. It was bottled in October 2021, during the 2021 harvest. This is already certified organic from 2020 onward. Approachable already. 5,000 bottles were filled in October 2021. These wines were usually bottled in January/February of the following year, so in 2020 they had a shorter ??levage in barrel. The wines were ready earlier. Drink Date 2022-2030”

Descendientes de J. Palacios Moncerbal, Bierzo 2021 750ml $159 special, 6 bottles available
Wine Advocate 98 points  “The ultra elegant, sleek and mineral 2021 Moncerbal has amazing freshness, ultra refined tannins and lots of complexity, with layers and layers of flavors and aromas and great depth. There is a sense of harmony here that is captivating—this is pure elegance. It is floral, perfumed and velvety with very fine, chalky tannins and a sapid finish. 4,463 bottles, 107 magnums and some larger formats were filled in December 2022.”

Ricardo Perez, winemaker and nephew of Alvaro

Descendientes de J. Palacios Petalos, Bierzo 2016 750ml $21.90 special, 2 bottles available
Wine Advocate 92 points “I tasted two vintages of their entry-level wine because the 2016 Pétalos del Bierzo was sold out and the 2017 has already been released. Depending on the vintage, they use more or less white grapes in the fermentation, and in 2016 it was around 6%. It has an elegant profile, clean, floral and spicy, with a soft palate and subtle acidity that gives it a kick and makes it longer. This is one of the best value wines in Spain, and 2016 is not an exception. Perhaps it won’t be the longest-lived vintage, but it’s drinking beautifully and gives a lot of pleasure. It’s somehow reminiscent of 2013 or 2014, perhaps a tad warmer. There were a whopping 318,000 bottles and 3,000 magnums, which means they had 1,568 barrels of this wine.”
Josh Raynolds 92 points “Deep, lurid ruby. Powerful, mineral- and spice-accented cherry and dark berry aromas, along with a suave violet nuance that builds in the glass. Sweet and penetrating on the palate, offering intense black raspberry, cherry-cola and spicecake flavors and a deeper suggestion of candied licorice. Shows excellent clarity and mineral cut on a long, subtle tannic finish that leaves a bitter cherry note behind.”
Wine Spectator 92 points “This savory red offers notes of espresso, black olive and graphite framing a core of black cherry and licorice. Fine-grained tannins and fresh acidity keep this balanced. Harmonious and graceful. Drink now through 2024. 27,000 cases made.”

Descendientes de J. Palacios Petalos, Bierzo 2021 750ml $21.90 special, 36+ bottles available
Wine Advocate 93+ points  “2021 is clearly the finest vintage of the trio of 2020, 2021 and 2022, and the bottled 2021 Pétalos delivers what the unbottled samples promised: a wine with lower alcohol than ever (13.5%), lighter, a little narrower but with the juiciness of Mencía that seems to come back after some time in bottle. It has lots of notes of aromatic herbs, with some similar aromas to the La Faraona. It’s quite expressive and showy, very pleasant and easy to drink, very gourmand, with a velvety mouthfeel and very fine tannins. 320,000 bottles and 2,567 magnums produced. It was bottled between November 2022 and March 2023. Approachable now, very hedonistic.”

Descendientes de J. Palacios Corullon, Bierzo 2021 750ml $54.50 special, 18 bottles available
Wine Advocate 97 points  “The vino de villa village red 2021 Corullón is extremely floral and elegant, clean, precise, fresh and very complete and harmonious, with a super elegant mouthfeel and a very long finish. 19,716 bottles and some smaller and larger formats produced. It was bottled in January 2022. This is super balanced and is aging slowly, with potential to age much more.”

Descendientes de J. Palacios Las Lamas, Bierzo 2019 750ml $149 special, 3 bottles available
Wine Advocate 97 points  “The grapes used for the 2019 Las Lamas come from a selection of 1.75 hectares they own in the paraje in the village of Corullón, not far from the winery that gives this wine its name. This is a south-facing location with a tendency to good ripeness and generous wines. It fermented in oak vats with indigenous yeasts and matured in a combination of oak barrels and foudres for eight months. This is the prototype of a wine from clay-rich soils; it’s round and vinous, refreshed by the altitude and the slate. This is more lactic than the Moncerbal, very classical and with fine but grainy tannins. Whatever it is, with years in bottle, this is more vinous and rounder and the Moncerbal is sharper. 5,520 bottles, 118 magnums and some larger formats produced.”

Made by young female winemaker Laura Lorenzo (she started at age 16!) Daterra’s wines area beautiful expression of origin. This is a unique producer in that you have the opportunity to taste a field blend of varieties that support a backbone of mencia. High toned, super pretty.

Daterra Viticultores ‘Azos da Vila’, Ribeira Sacra 2019 750ml $33 special, 17 bottles available
Wine Advocate 91 points  “Coming from the region of Manzaneda, the red 2019 Azos da Vila is dark and a little cloudy, earthy and with some rusticity. It was produced with grapes from ancient vineyards planted with Mencía, Mouratón and Merenzao that can represent 70% of the volume and then some Alicante Bouschet, Gran Negro and Palomino. There is a volatile whiff here and some notes of apple skin intermixed with notes of herbs and acid berries. It has a contained 12.5% alcohol and fine tannins. 51,84 bottles produced.”
Importer note “Field blend of Mouraton, Mencia, Garnacha Tintorera, Merenzao, Gran Negro, and other local varieties from 80-120-year-old vines on granitic soils near Manzaneda in the Val do Bibei. Grapes partially destemmed (50%), macerate for 15 days, and fermented with wild yeasts in an old, open-top French oak barrel. Raised for 11 months in used 225L & 500L chestnut and French oak barrels.”

Daterra Viticultores ‘Portella Vento Tinto’, Ribeira Sacra 2018 750ml $28 special, 4 bottles available
John Gilman 93 points  “The Portela Do Vento Tinto is composed of a blend of Mencía and Garnacha Tintorera, selected from several different vineyard parcels in both Quiroga and Amandi. The grapes are mostly destemmed and fermented in stainless steel tanks, prior to racking to five hundred liter, used demi-muids for ten months of elevage. The 2018 Portela Do Vento comes in at a svelte twelve percent alcohol and delivers a beautiful, black fruity bouquet of cassis, dark berries, tree bark, coffee bean, slate, cigar smoke and just a touch of upper register botanicals. On the palate the wine is precise, full-bodied and tangy, with a lovely core of fruit, excellent slate undertow, fine-grained tannins and a long, complex, palate-staining and focused finish. This is pure, light on its feet and excellent! 2023-2045+.”
Importer Note “Comes from several south-facing parcels of Menci´a and Garnacha Tintorera in the Amandi and Quiroga-Bibei subzones. The grapes were harvested by hand and mostly destemmed, fermented with wild yeasts in steel vats, and raised for 9 months in used 500 liter French barrels. This is Laura’s “glou-glou” wine that she loves to share with her American friends. Fresh and easy-drinking, it is very versatile with a wide variety of foods…or straight from the porro´n!?”

Daterra Viticultores ‘Portella Vento Tinto’, Ribeira Sacra 2019 750ml $31.90 special, 5 bottles available
Importer note “100% Mencia from a south-facing parcel of 50-year-old vines planted on granitic, sandy soils at an elevation of 350-400 meters in the Amandi subzone of Ribeira Sacra. The grapes were destemmed and partially crushed then fermented in a used 4000L French oak foudre. The wine then rested for 11 months in the same foudre.”

Lastly, a wine we are super excited to have arriving in our shop any day now. Another mencia classic that delivers meaty fruit flavors and tons of pleasure. 

Bodegas y Vinedos Luna Beberide Paixar Mencia, Bierzo 2020 750ml $35.50 special, 30 bottles available
Wine Advocate 96 points 
“The 2020 Paixar is the one wine from the portfolio that is completely different from the others and comes from high-altitude vineyards in the zone of Dragonte on slate soils. In 2020 and 2021 they used the whole field blend—reds and around 5% white grapes, which might have given it an extra spark of acidity. It matured in 5,000-liter oak vat and 500-liter oak barrels. It has a perfumed nose, elegant and floral, with good ripeness but without excess. It’s finely textured with a chalky thread and great balance. It finishes long and dry. This is truly superb and should evolve nicely in bottle. It’s now Vino de Paraje ‘A Serra’ in Dragonte, a parish of Corullón. 8,000 bottles were filled in November 2021. Drink: 2023-2032. (Jan 2022).”
John Gilman 94 points “The Paixar bottling is Luna Beberide’s oldest vine cuvée, as these vines are all between eighty and one hundred years of age, planted on crumbling slate soils on a steep, south-facing hillside. If memory serves me correctly, this used to see some new oak during its elevage, but these days it is raised all in one wine casks and used foudres. The 2020 Paixar is nicely ripe at 13.5 percent octane and delivers a beautifully refined bouquet of sweet dark berries, cassis, pomegranate, tree bark, graphite, a beautiful base of slate, a bit of smoked meats, black tea, discreet botanicals and a gentle framing of cedary oak from the one-used barrels. On the palate the wine is pure, full-bodied and youthfully structured, with a great core of fruit, firm, chewy tannins, excellent focus and grip and a long, elegant, balanced and extremely promising finish.16 Even though this is raised all in used wood, it still needs some bottle aging to integrate the oak completely here. Once it is ready to drink, it is going to be a great wine. 2033-2080+.”
PALACIOS BIERZO PETALOS 2021 $21.90 36+ Link
PALACIOS CORULLON 2021 $54.50 18 Link
PALACIOS LAS LAMAS 2019 750ML $149.00 3 Link
DATERRA AZOS DE VILA 2019 750ML $33.00 17 Link