D.O. Bierzo in Northwestern Spain is quickly becoming one of the most recognised regions of Spain, and is home to the Mencía grape, a red grape variety producing fragrant red wines. It is so strongly believed that this vine is related to Cabernet Franc, the local synonym is Cabernet. Only time will tell if Bierzo is to be the next Priorat, a premium region that few knew little only ten years ago.
We were keen to fill the Bierzo gap after being without one for a while. There’s some lovely high-end wine coming from this small region, which officially forms part of Castilla y León, but we really wanted to get something the everyday wine drinker could buy an try. La Mano Mencía Roble was our choice.
Here’s what Jay Miller (Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate) had to say:
“It is a glass-coating opaque purple color with an alluring perfume of mineral, spice box, cedar, boysenberry, and black cherry. Sweetly fruited, savory, and built for pleasure, it finishes with no hard edges. This lengthy effort is a great value that over-delivers in a big way. It is a splendid introduction to the Mencía grape.” 89 points
La Mano is the Spanish word for hand, as this wine is made by the hands of people who have always worked with Mencía vines. It is produced by Vinos de Arganza, who began in 1966 as a bottling plant before going into wine production in 2000. Along with a number of other producers in the region, Vinos de Arganza have given Mencía a lease of life by improved canopy management and by reducing yields, allowing for more concentrated and complex wines to be made.
The vineyards get some protection from the surrounding mountains, avoiding possible frost damage. In this region the soils are composed of clay limestone and the vineyards are made up of terraces and small parcels. The climate is affected by the Atlantic (the Galician area) and by Continental (the Castilian area) influences. Spain is the land of American oak, which I’m a big fan of. After fermentation in stainless steel tanks, La Mano went into American oak for three months before bottling.