From the ever creative and questioning duo at Somos, Ben Caldwell and Maurizio Ruiz Cantú, this is a super-fragrant take on mencía, matching the classic floral profile with ample but well-knit whole bunch spice across a splay of cherries, berries and sour plums.
This is the product of many tiny ferments, with liberal use of whole bunches, adding a layer of spice to the expression of tart black and red berries, sour cherries, damson plums and gentle red floral notes. Some of those ferments were left on skins for a long time to build structure, while others were pressed early to target freshness. This sits in the midweight camp with ample acidity and fine, grapey tannins giving it plenty of zest, finishing super bright and flavourful.
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.
There is arguably no more creatively fertile wine region in Australia right now than the Adelaide Hills. The push to plant vines in the Hills was led by some of Australia’s most established and famous names – Croser, Henschke, Shaw and Smith, Knappstein, Weaver – and while they are all still very much major players, the Hills has also been a hotbed for the avant-garde – Lucy Margaux, Ochota Barrels, Unico Zelo, Commune of Buttons, BK Wines etc. – and the cradle of the natural wine movement in this country. The first foray into the Hills was very much built around chardonnay, pinot noir, sauvignon blanc and, to a lesser degree, riesling. After some early excitement, pinot noir was eclipsed by chardonnay, both for plantings and perceived quality, as it was by sauvignon blanc, which is now the most planted variety – red or white. Pinot gris has also found a meaningful niche there, as has shiraz, and it stakes a claim to the best territory for nebbiolo in the country, if plantings are currently limited.