A quick stop at our favorite San Sebastián wine shop on a recent trip resulted in leaving with this vino tinto from Green Spain based winemakers Nanclares y Prieto. With smaller producer wine and Mencia (among other grapes) on our mind, you can imagine our delight to find both!
While (Alberto) Nanclares y (Silvia) Prieto are located in Rias Biaixas, in Galicia and focus on Albariño, they make a small amount of red wine from small plots of Mencia, Caiño, and Espadeira further inland. Some of the vines are over 50 years old.
To take care of their vines and be more cognizant of their actions, they don’t till, they make their own compost, they use biodynamic techniques, and farm organically with little winemaking intervention. This is not necessarily easy to do in the northwest corner of Spain with the Atlantic to the west and north. The area is quite rainy, causing disease pressure, yet their Mencia is grown inland in the more hilly area with surrounding mountains.
Ahhh, Mencia. This grape, believed indigenous to the Castilla y Leon region and prevalent there in D.O. (Denominación de Origen) Bierzo, previously hooked me with its peppery, brambly character and smooth freshness. You find it scattered in the Spanish northwest: D.O.s Valdeorras, Monterrei, and Ribeira Sacra in Galicia, D.O. Bierzo in Castilla y Leon, and in Asturias, Cantabria, and Castilla La Mancha. It’s found in the Dão area of Portugal where it’s known as Jaen, Australia (McClaren Vale and Adelaide), and in the state of Oregon near the Columbia Gorge as well.
a senda Vermella (translates to ‘a red path’) 2021, Nanclares y Prieto Viticultores
56% Mencía, 33% Espadeiro, 11% Caiño
The wine debuted in 2020 with just Mencia and Caiño, yet they added Espadeiro in 2021 according to what the harvest presented.
Espadeiro is indigenous to the Iberian Peninsula, most likely Portugal, yet grown in Galicia.
Caiño (Tinto), also native to the Iberian Peninsula, most likely calls Galicia its birth home.
What is the wine like? Some floral notes, red fruited, and marked by the Mencia character: brambly with pepper, fresh, medium-bodied, and just 11.5% alcohol. Nuanced yet not terribly complex, which is appropriate for nights you want to chill with a lovely glass of wine. Refreshingly bright and peppery, smooth and thought-provoking. Totally delicious.
This wine doesn’t tug at your sleeve saying “Look at and analyze me”, but allows space for both enjoyment of it and most any savory food you might desire.
I couldn’t find information on the number of bottles produced, yet know a senda Vermella is very small production. Purchased for 22€ at Essencia Wine. Available at various stores in the States, see WineSearcher.
Jose Pastor Selections imports many of their Albariños, in case you’re interested!
More on Mencia
Mencia can be difficult to grow, requiring certain vineyard conditions, leaning towards mild warm days and moderately cool nights. It is a low-yielding grape susceptible to mildew and disease, making it a challenging variety to grow. It tends to have higher acidity and makes characterful wines from lighter- to medium-bodied.