Bierzo Spain And Mencia
Most people when thinking of Spanish Red Wines they think of Rioja, Ribera Del Duero and Toro for the most part. One of my personal favorites is located on the map above in that northwest corner near Valdeorras (Home of Great Godellos) called Bierzo. Not Bozo…that was the clown. Bierzo is famous for their grape Mencia. It normally is a cooler climate and the grape has great acidity and sort of a smoked meat quality to it but the one I am reviewing came from a famous winery and from a very warm 2017 vintage which caused a very early harvest in August.
2017 Descendientes de J. Palacios Bierzo
Look at those old vines on the hillsides of Bierzo. Similar to Priorat. During the late 1980’s, Alvaro Palacios traveled his native Spain selling French barriques to winemakers. But his journeys had a second purpose: to find the best place to achieve his goal of making Spain’s greatest wine
Alvaro made his name in Priorat while is nephew Ricardo was learning how to make wine in Bordeaux. Nothing too shabby for Ricardo as he got to work on vintages of Margaux And Petrus but still never forgetting his dream to find the perfect old vine vineyards back in Spain for Mencia in the Bierzo region.
Alvaro and Ricardo found promising sites in a number of villages but shortly came to believe that the greatest potential lay in a little town on Bierzo’s western border named Corullón. Old vineyards lined the precipitous hillsides there, and the local soils were extremely poor—composed mostly of schist—but with incredible diversity. The minute variations in soils and exposures across this zone immediately reminded the two of Burgundy’s Côte d’Or, or Piedmont’s Langhe hills. In Corullón, Alvaro and Ricardo believe they have found a unique combination of soils, old vines and a distinctive variety that will yield their own grands crus. Beginning with 2001, the estate began to make their case with individual vineyard bottlings.
Pétalos del Bierzo, is assembled from old hillside and hilltop vines from across Bierzo’s western edge. The wine is vinified for immediate appeal, but it retains the estate’s signature finesse and restraint.
The vineyards used in Petalos include estate vineyards and rented vineyards in and around the village of Corullon. The vines range in age from 40 – 90 years old. The vineyards in Corullon are high elevation mixed with lower elevation vineyards from other parts of the appellation. Mostly schist sites mixed with about 30% from clay.
All 100% Hand Harvested grapes and all farmed 100% Bio-dynamically. The wine is UNFINED and UNFILTERED. After a few weeks in New French Oak it spends the rest of the time ageing for about 10 months in used neutral French Barriques.
2017 was a very unusual year in Bierzo, and here they started harvesting the 21st of August, when they had never started harvesting in August. There are more white grapes (Godello and Palomino )in the 2017 Pétalos del Bierzo, almost 10%, not because they wanted to lower the alcohol, because the alcohol was similar to 2016, but because the white grapes achieved perfect ripeness (Ricardo Pérez Palacios says he’s never seen such beautiful white grapes. Let’s Review!
This wine is very approachable now or made for the long term. They produce over 300,000 bottles of this. A perfect example that not all mass produced wines are made poorly. Dark ruby red on the color. Only 13.5% Alcohol. I gave it 90 minutes open and a slight chill in the fridge before reviewing. On the nose lots of violets (Hence I assume the name Petalos as in flower Petals). A hint of smoked meat and baking spice come out in the forefront but an intoxicating aroma of a basket of the ripest red berries and plums you can imagine. On the palate astringent strawberries attack the mid palate with a hint of licorice and very round and juicy. The wine has super mouthwatering acidity driving this old vine fruit from this warm vintage and the tannins are sweet and soft and provides a long lasting finish. This is off varietal to the cooler vintage Mencia’s I have had in the past but I really think this is a crowd pleasing wine. I will score it 91 out of 100. Wine Advocate scored this 93 but they are usually higher than most reviewers on wines from Spain. I can see this with a Charcuterie plate with aged Spanish Cheeses like Mahon, Or Manchego or great with Paella and any fatty fish like salmon or tuna would benefit from the juicy fruit.
I think if you haven’t had a wine from Bierzo or a Mencia grape this 2017 early harvested Petalos would be a great one to start out with because of it’s easy drinkability. At $23.99 I would like to see it come down a couple of dollars but still a good bang for the buck. This is not a Jam Bomb or heavy Licorice and Graphite type of wine you get from Priorat with high alcohol. It is handcrafted, juicy and enjoyable. I can see many palates out there taking a liking to this wine. Take time out to smell the flowers..or the Petalos! Salud!
Grape-fully yours, Larry
Love This Label! Petalos