“Spain, the beautiful country of wine and song” said Goethe once. And generally I’d be very keen to agree except on this occasion , my first try of the lesser known Spanish variety ‘Mencia’, where I think I’m more minded to say ‘stick to the music thing’. It was one of those , fairly rare, days when I just could not be bothered to cook ( all artists have off days you know! ) so out came a frozen pizza!
Now normally I prefer to stick to the ‘golden regional rule’ and drink Italian wine with Pizza and one of my favourite pairings is Pepperoni pizza and a nice Chianti ( you know, the one that also works well with liver and fava beans! ) But on this occasion I didn’t have any so decided to open a bottle of Waitrose Mencia that I’d picked up a few days before. It’s part of a cracking little range that Waitrose have put together of wines from unusual varieties.
Now I’d heard of Mencia but only really because I’ve read quite a bit about wine. It’s a very popular variety in Spain apparently and this one is from the Bierzo region. This is a DO ‘Denominacion de Origen’ in NW Spain that has a unique regional climate that is totally cool for grapes with it’s combination of Galicia like rain and humidity and Castille like heat. Red wines from this DO must be made from either Mencia or another obscure variety ‘Alicante Bouschet’.
Traditionally Mencia has been used to make light, pale and fragrant wines for ‘early consumption’. ( Whenever I read these two words I tend to lower my expectations ) This was driven by the fact that much of the vines were planted on flat, fertile areas leading to large yields of fairly dilute wine. These themes certainly came though when tasting.
The wine had a nice dark purple colour and as expected an enthusiastic nose of red fruits, floral notes and spices. On the palate the wine really disappointed though, quite thin with noticeable acidity and very little finish. Maybe some similarity to Cabernet Franc of which I’ve enjoyed some excellent ones that this would pale against.
So overall not impressed but I have to fess up to not generally being a fan of lighter reds. I’d say drinkable so 4/10 but not a bottle I’ll drink twice. If anyone has a recommendation for a really good Mencia I can try I’m all ears but for now I think I’ll move on.