There’s some new kids in town…
Well…they’re not really new, but certainly becoming more popular…everyone wants to hang around them. Many want to BE them!
Being in a retail environment affords me the opportunity to find out just what’s hot and what’s not. The Aussie Shiraz trend is slowing down, as is the Argentinian Malbec, but they still hold their own. Weird and wonderful grapes seem to be coming to the forefront of buying (and drinking) trends. As mentioned in previous posts, Etna wines from the island of Sicily in Italy are becoming extremely popular. But, enter the region of Bierzo in Northwest Spain. Up until now, it’s been all about Rias Biaxes and the Albarińo grape. Don’t get me wrong, this is typically a fantastic quaffer with bright peach and floral notes and lovely high acidity to pair with any seafood dish, much of the local fare for this area. Move inland to the east, and you will find Bierzo. It’s not damp and cool like Rias Biaxes, but not super hot like the Meseta, yet it still benefits from Atlantic influence. Not too hot, yet not too cold. And with some elevations as high as 2500 feet, you can get great quality. Spain is a difficult country to understand, and the average consumer has no clue to the what, where, how of Bierzo. They might know the names of the grapes though, hence the trendiness of it. So let’s talk about these popular kids shall we?
Mencia (Men-THEE-uh)- Don’t forget to put the Catalan ‘lisp’ in there when pronouncing this grape. If you’d rather not, it’s just plain “Men-SEA-uh”! This grape is very unlike any other grape in Spain. It tends to have flavours of red cherries and cranberries, with a dusty like dried rosehip thing going on. It is fresh and fruity with lower tannins, and if grown at higher elevations, high acidity. Many of the vines are re-discovered old bush vines, with naturally low yields on schistous soils. “The alcohol level can be quite high and the acidity drops quickly at the end of ripening, so it is not always easy to get the right balance and retain freshness”. (Wine Grapes: 2012 Harper Collins, Robinson J, Harding J, Vouillamoz J, pg 626) Good viticultural practises and modern winemaking have done much to make these wines palatable, and Mencia can range anywhere from light and fruity, to powerful, brooding and spicy. You might know it as Jaen in the Dao region of Portugal!
Godello (Go-DAY-o)- This grape was almost extinct in the 70’s, down to only several hundred vines. If you find a bottle from Bierzo, it’ll be good, but if you find one from Valdeorras, the neighbouring region, I bet it’ll be even better. A great renaissance is occurring in the region for Godello. Single varietal Godello started coming around in the 80’s and it’s surging. If you’re looking for a great value, high acid, easy drinking white, this just may be it. Highly aromatic with citrus, apple/pear and peach notes with that great “minerality”(which is also becoming quite trendy by the way). I bet we will start to see even more of these in our market very soon.
One of the producers to bring us both of these varietals is Encanto, meaning “charm”. These wines are charming indeed. Bright labels and the juice inside is good too! They pretty much taste as I’ve described: fresh and fruity with sour cherries on the Mencia, and pear, peach with that minerally note on the Godello. And let’s talk value! On the shelf, the Godello is $17.95 (AB767813) and the Mencia is $21.95 (AB767815). Salud!