This is the second release of mencía under Varney’s ‘Expressions of Interest’ project, and it’s ample proof that the Spanish grape has a bright future in this country. This is both plush and flavourful, but also sprinkled with spice and scented with florals, a silky, textured palate carrying cherry and plum flavours through a long finish.
This is very lifted and perfumed, but it’s also marked by intensity and concentration on the nose. Red and black cherries, sarsaparilla, blood plum, black tea and an earthy humus note all play a role, with a suggestion of red florals accenting. There’s a silky slip to the mid palate with slinky tannins carrying the supple fruit, a saturation of flavour sitting lightly in the wine, with freshness and vibrant fruit prevailing.
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.