The Mencía grape variety: origin and cultivation
Mencía is an indigenous grape variety chiefly grown in northwestern Spain
. There are also around 2,500 hectares planted with this grape in the Dão and Douro regions of neighbouring Portuga
l. “Indigenous” means that the grapes are deeply rooted in or have remained in their homeland: to this day the Mencía grape is grown in the area where it originally came from. This variety originated in the Spanish region of Bierzo
, where Mencía is the principal grape cultivated. It fell into obscurity for many years until the oenologist Álvaro Palacios breathed new life into Mencía with the help of his family. The variety has now become something of a cult.
Mencía wines: why are they so special?
Red wines made from this grape variety have a sophisticated flavour: the fragrant bouquet is marked by an intense, fruity aroma with a hint of spice
. Mencía wines are also known for their soft raspberry and blackcurrant notes. Wines vinified from Mencía grapes are therefore often compared to Cabernet franc.
The particular character and flavour of a Mencía wine are partially the result of being cultivated in the Bierzo wine region in Spain which has a relatively cool microclimate
. The slate soils
found there are also influential as they impart a certain minerality to the grapes
. The terroir is reflected clearly, but in a restrained way, in the flavour of the wines.
In addition, wines made with the Mencía grape variety have the advantage that, although they can be drunk very young, they still possess a high level of complexity and subtlety. Although these superior reds are low in acidity and tannins, they are nevertheless ideally suited to ageing in barriques.
What food does Mencía go with?
Mencía wines are supple and elegant and therefore make the perfect accompaniment to typical Spanish dishes. For example, a Mencía wine would go with a poultry or meat dish seasoned with lots of spices and fresh herbs.