Discover Mencia of Galicia

If you are a fan of Pinot Noir, Gamay, Cabernet Franc, or cool climate Merlot, then you will be seduced by the well-balanced tannins and rich concentration of earthy and fruity flavors that are expressed in wines that are made from the rare Mencia grape varietal.

Mencia is grown in two places in the world: the northwestern region of Spain and the northern half of Portugal where it is also known by the name Jaen. Pronounced as “men-thee-ah”, this grape almost became extinct when Phylloxera (a tiny louse that kills vine roots by chewing on them) ravaged most of the world's greatest wine regions in the later part of the 19th century. 

It was only at the turn of the 20th century that Mencia started to gain recognition as a grape that has the potential to be made into great wines. Traditionally considered a simple regional grape, its mass production was solely for the creation of generic table wines that were drunk locally. However, things have changed for this little-known grape varietal. Winemakers in Galicia discovered the old forgotten low-yielding hillside vineyard plots where the old Mencia vines grow in a terroir that produces grapes that are exceptionally concentrated and of excellent quality. 

After the Phylloxera crisis, Mencia vineyards were replanted on the fertile plains. The high-yielding vines grew grapes that were made into light watery wines that were destined for immediate consumption. In contrast, the dense, poor rocky composition of schist soils on the ancient hillside plantations produces lower yields of higher-quality Mencia grapes. Careful vinification has allowed winemakers to produce elegant red wines that have an aging potential of up to ten years.

Mencia is a difficult grape to grow as it is especially vulnerable to a variety of different fungi.  It tends to lose acidity levels if it is harvested too late which makes it a challenge for the viticulturists and winemakers who choose to work with it. However, in the care of a skilled artisan winemaker, the grape offers a versatile spectrum of styles that range from fruity and filled with supple tannins, to concentrated and full of minerality. This diverse expression of the wine makes it very appealing to a wide range of wine drinkers.

Mencia is now making a name for itself worldwide and it is particularly popular among wine lovers who wish to explore red wines that are not made from Tempranillo. Good acidity and concentration of fruits and minerality give the often full-bodied wines that are made in Spain a refreshing twist. 

Taste & Pairing

Mencia red wines are typically medium-bodied, displaying red and dark fruit flavors, a hint of black pepper, and floral aromas, along with a pleasant gravel-like minerality. Alcohol levels and acidity range from medium to high. 

Tannins are subtle but present, which makes Mencia wines the perfect partner for Iberico pork, cured meats, grilled steak, roast duck, tapas, and anything that is cooked on the barbeque. It pairs equally well with hearty vegetable dishes such as mushroom risotto or grilled Portobello mushrooms.

To discover the wonders of the wines made from the Mencia grape varietal, try these two single-varietal artisan wines from Galicia. Available for delivery within Metro Manila:

Gabo Do XIL Mencia (₱ 1,440)

Displaying rich aromas and notes of red berries, granite, and white pepper, this wine is the perfect pairing partner with game, beef, and various cheeses.

Appellation: DO Valdeorras
Variety: 100% Mencia
Fermentation: Natural
Wine-Making Process: Biodynamic

Lousas Vino de Aldea (₱  2,236.67)

This wine is young and fresh on the nose and expresses notes of raspberries, strawberries, licorice, anise, violets, and aromatic herbs. The palate is very well-balanced, seducing the taste buds with concentrated fruit and soft velvety tannins.

Appellation: D.O Ribeira Sacra
Variety: 100% Mencia
Fermentation: Natural
Wine-Making Process: Organic

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