El Bierzo Mencia

Among the most exciting of Spanish wine producing frontiers, the El Bierzo DO is a unique part of the autonomous region of Castilla y León. Romans prized this land as a rich mining source of minerals and gold; Christians guarded it with a network of 300 castles and fortified monasteries, effectively containing Moorish expansion in the 8th and 9th centuries; Castilian knight Don Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar (aka ‘El Cid’) is arguably its most famous son; the crusading Templars are its best-known religious order, and Spain’s most iconic Medieval royalty, Ferdinand and Isabella. Tucked quietly into the historical legacy is the landscape and the winemakers of the Bierzo Valley. Framed between the Montes de Leon and Cordillera Cantábrica mountains, this square-shaped valley of a fertile plain, surrounding stands of forest and steep vineyard terraces acts as a geographic funnel into the lush northwestern corner of the Iberia. Referred to as the ‘gateway to Galicia’, it’s part of the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route, providing the speculation that it was the religiously motivated travelers who first brought vines to the area? Though relatively small as a wine region, its vineyards benefit from an Atlantic influenced maritime microclimate, making it equally conducive to the cultivation of red and white grapevine. Curiously, it remains one of the less well-known Spanish designated DO’s in the attention of international markets–despite the impressive fact that its 55 or so Bodegas are prolifically producing 11million litres of wine annually!

Bodega del Abad (the ‘Abbot’s Cellar’) has only been active as an independent producer since 2003, but boasts a loyal following that was expanded by a surprise release several years ago of a 2001 Crianza-grade cache that had been hiding somewhere in the back corners of their cellars. This DéClassé featured 2006 bottling is also surprising. In both cases, the wine is well beyond the mandated 2 years of a combined barrel and bottle aging required to qualify for a Crianza designation. Evidently, this vintner has exercised patience to assure that the vintage has achieved a balance of being fully rounded and mature while possessing fruitful vigour; wrapped in delicious chocolate-tinged flavours.

bodega-del-abad

35 hectares of Bodega del Abad vineyard are located on high terrain made up of slate and quartzite soils, imparting a discernible minerality into the profile. The property’s mix of old vines, with some approaching 70 years-of-age, continue to yield meticulously handpicked and sorted fruit; creating wines with a distinct aromatic character, medium-body, and preserved acidity. These attributes are a winemaking accomplishment, due in part to modern production techniques, but they’re also a result of the innate potential of Mencia. Indigenous to Bierzo, with some spillover into Galicia, this resurgent variety has been anointed as one of the four most important Spanish red wine grapes. Producing
compact clusters of medium-sized, violet-blue berries, its renaissance is based on an ability to generate age-worthy wine, at a relatively modest price point.

This bottling is ready to go now but will also hold up for nicely for several more years. It will likely fly off the shelves as word of this formerly hidden gem spreads. So buy enough to get you through the Spring, Summer and Fall dinner seasons!

Abad Dom Bueno Crianza

ABAD DOM BUENO CRIANZA 2006
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #244699 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 15.95
Alcohol/Vol. 13.5%
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in: Bierzo, Spain
By: Bodega Del Abad
Release Date: March 5, 2016

Tasting Note
Having aged gracefully, this has soft notes of black pepper and tea leaf wrapped around the juicy cassis, plum and currant flavours. With a core of gentle tannins, try serving this food friendly wine with rich poultry dishes, marinated steak kabob, roast leg of lamb, or spicy beef empanadas.

Mencia Alert

El Bierzo DO is a wine region tucked away in the province of León – among the
most exciting Spanish frontiers and source of some of its most qualitative wine.
The fertile plain and forests of this lush valley situated between the Montes de
Leon and Cordillera Cantábrica mountain ranges is referred to as the ‘gateway
to Galicia’ as it’s geography is a funnel into this verdant corner of northwestern
Spain. Though it’s a relatively small wine growing area, it benefits from a special
micro-climate that is equally conducive to cultivation of both red and white vine
stock. Home to 55 principle vineyards and despite being a lesser-known region
in terms of international markets – it’s producing an impressive11 million liters
of wine annually and still sustainably expanding.

Under the watchful guidance of master wine maker, José Luis Vázquez Santín,
Bodega del Abad (‘the Abbot’s Cellar’) has only been active as an independent
producer since 2003, but already boasts a loyal following that was reinforced
by a surprising release a couple of years ago of a 2001 Crianza-grade cache
that had been hiding somewhere in the very back corners of their cellars. This
week’s offering of a 2006 Crianza is also surprising. In both cases, we are well
beyond the typical 2 years of combined ageing in barrel and bottle mandated
by Spanish wine laws. This presumably translates into the vintner exercising
a significant amount of patience in deciding not to release stock before better
assuring that the vintage has the right balance of having become fully rounded
and mature but still possessing a fruitful vigor.

These attributes are due in part to modern production techniques being applied
but also a result of the innate potential of Mencia. Indigenous to the Bierzo, this
variety is now considered to be one of the four most important Spanish reds.
Producing small, compact clusters of medium-sized berries, its newfound
popularity is based on an ability to yield age-worthy wine at a relatively modest
price point. In the case of this week’s featured vintner, Bodega del Abad’s 35
hectares of vineyards are located up on steep terrain made up of quartzite and
slate-laden soils. The mix of old vines, with some approaching 70 years-of-age,
are producing meticulously handpicked and hand-sorted grapes, creating wine
with a characteristic, velvety palate.

This is ready to go now and likely to fly off the shelves quickly – so buy enough
to get you through the upcoming Fall and Winter while you can!

Abad Dom Bueno Crianza

ABAD DOM BUENO CRIANZA 2006
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #244699 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 14.95
Alcohol/Vol. 13.5%
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in: Bierzo, Spain
By: Bodega Del Abad
Release Date: July 19, 2014

Tasting Note
Having aged gracefully, this offers juicy red cherry and currant flavours over a
core of gentle tannins. The refreshing acidity enhances the soft accents of black
pepper and tea leaf notes. Serve with rich poultry dishes, roast leg of lamb,
marinated steak or spicy beef empanadas.