I was happy to see this weeks NYTimes column focus on the remarkable wines of Priorat, one of the great wine regions in Spain. I was sad, however that none of the wines we tasted last friday were from Priorat. But we did taste some awesome wines from Rias Baixas and Bierzo - two of my favorite regions in Spain.
What I came up with was the unique Do Ferreiro Rebisaca, a blend of 75% Albariño and 25% Treixadura and aged on lees for 9 months. Not the typical Rias Baixas, but a nervy, vibrant wine that got the point across; Albariño can be a complex and interesting white, and has earned its reputation one of the greatest seafood wines. This wine may not have convinced everybody of the pleasures of white, but it turned some heads and brought back memories of fresh seafood dinners in Europe.
Next up was a pair of 2008 Bierzos, both 100% Mencía. The first, La Mano, was a rather simple, light bodied expression reminiscent of the red table wines common along the Camino. In contrast, the Pétalos from J. Palacios, was richer, more complex and ended up being one of the favorites of the evening. The contrast of these two wines was clear when tasting them side by side.
(+) Do Ferreiro Rebisaca, Rias Baixas DO 2007 $20
Bright and crisp with lots of lime peel, touch of melon and mineral character on the nose. This wine seemed to have the weight to handle a variety of food, but the general conversation leaned towards seafood. Refreshing with a medium finish. Available from Storyteller Wines, imported by De Maison Selection.
(-) La Mano Mencía Roble, Bierzo DO 2008 $10.50
A straightforward wine that showed the basic profile of Mencía; red fruit, bramble and herbal notes followed with good acidity, rough but light tannins, and light alcohol. Not a bad red table wine for lighter meals, hot summer nights, or days of walking 30 km, but nothing to get excited about either. Available from Great Wine Buys, imported by Axial wines.
(++) Descendientes de J. Palacios, Pétalos Bierzo DO 2008 $23
Perhaps the most interesting find of the night for me. This wine comes from old vines (40-90 years) with very low yields, then spends some time in French oak barrels. I loved the full expression of Mencía with ripe brambly raspberry, blueberry pie, complex herbal notes and baking spice. The tannins were refined like a nice black tea, and balanced with the crisp acidity. Not quite full bodied with a long finish. Although this is Palacios entry level Mencía, it shows what this grape is capable of, and is very much worth picking up. Available at Cork and New Seasons, imported by Rare Wine Co.
Although this post is a week late to be included, its worth checking out the Wine Blogging Wednesday roundup of posts on Spainish wines, and the awesome map produced.