This comes from the first grower to plant mencía in this country, and they still supply a group of top makers with fruit. Oliver’s Taranga own wine sits very much at the front of the pack of expressions, a vibrantly intense wine typical of the region, but with a varietal vibrancy of pristinely ripe cherries, overlaid with dusky florals and spice, the palate silky and compellingly slurpable.
There’s a pithy grapey quality here that features on the nose and the palate with plum-skin tannins. The flavours sit at the bold end, but there’s impeccable balance and freshness, too, with black cherry, cola, ripe red plums, lilting blue/red florals and a dusting of spice. The flavours continue on the palate, with some woody dried herbs and chinotto notes on the palate, which is deeply flavourful but also intensely slurpable and bright.
Themes of this wine
Largely grown in Spain’s north-west, Bierzo is the best-known region for the grape, with Ribeira Sacra, Valdeorras and Monterrei claiming the rest of the fame, while it is also grown in Portugal’s Dao Valley where it likely originated. Producing mainly middleweight reds, mencía is a very distinctive grape, generating wines that are marked mainly by red fruits, though often some black, with spice and powerful floral aromas. It is also a grape that readily conveys the mineral flavours of site. With supple texture and fine tannin, it is sometimes compared to pinot noir and gamay, but with a combination of cherries, ripe wild berries and dusky red floral notes, the flavour expression is unmistakably different.
While it couldn’t feel any more removed from city life, the McLaren Vale wine region is actually inside Adelaide’s metropolitan area. And although the township itself is only 40 minutes by car from central Adelaide and vineyards brush up against ever-encroaching housing, McLaren Vale remains unaffected by the urban sprawl. With deeply etched history, the Vale has a slow-paced sense of calm and an extraordinary wealth of untrammelled beauty. It is home to some of this country’s most beautifully pristine beaches, as well as some of the world’s most forward-thinking grape-growers and winemakers. And with over 80 cellar doors, it is an essential destination for wine lovers – and anyone else, for that matter.