Spanish wines continue to amaze me. After six beautiful weeks traveling the country, I still was not ready to leave the land of cava, sherry, garnacha, and crianza. Thankfully, the global wine world still makes it possible for gorgeous Spanish wines to be delivered to my door (or, in this case, to the door of my favorite wine shop). I cannot stop raving about this Petalos and am very excited to share it–and the obscure varietal Mencia–with you.

We must begin with a little back story about the region and this producer . . .

Bierzo is a very small wine producing region in Northern Spain. It has slate and granite-laden soil (more on this later).

800px-DO_Bierzo_location.svg

“DO Bierzo location” by Té y kriptonita – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:DO_Bierzo_location.svg#/media/File:DO_Bierzo_location.svg

Bierzo experienced a “boom” in the 1990s when a group of wine producers attempted to revitalize the region. One of the these producers (named Alvaro Palacios) is related to a man who is credited with the same type of revitalization in the Priorat region in Portugal. Just like his relative, Palacios successfully gave the region a face lift, and a new style of bolder wines emerged.

Before this overhaul, the region’s primary grape, mencia, was known as being somewhat weak. These days, the region’s cult wine lovers know how bold, fruity, spicy, and floral these wines can be. Mencia was once confused with Cabernet Franc (and tends to have the same floral and spice characteristics) but DNA profiling proved this theory to be just speculation. Yay science. 🙂 It thrives in the soil conditions mentioned above: slate and granite.

The Mencia grapes on the vine. Courtesy of WikiCommons.

The Mencia grapes on the vine. Courtesy of WikiCommons.

This Petalos retails for just under $20. Although bold, it can be drunk on its own thanks to its high level of fruit, but it is also an incredibly complement to a variety of dishes: the floral notes make it a wonderful pairing to Moroccan foods, and the spice works well with anything Mediterranean. It is also a great gift for the Spanish wine lover who would enjoy receiving a bottle showcasing a varietal that he/she had never heard of (Happy Birthday, Jen!). 🙂