Why should you care? Northwest Spain’s native mencia variety has captured the attention of enophiles in recent years for its ability to produce wines that combine power and elegance. With its spicy cherry/berry character and vivacity, mencia is often compared to cabernet franc (some people think the two varieties are related), and I frequently find myself thinking of pinot noir when I’m tasting the finest versions. Some of the greatest examples of mencia come from the steep, granitic vineyards of the Ribeira Sacra zone and D. Ventura is consistently a star of my annual tastings.
What does it taste like? Sourced from vines that are over 80 years old and raised completely in stainless steel, the 2011 Viña do Burato is unadorned, vibrant mencia at its best and most classic. Intensely spicy and focused, offering an array of red and dark berry flavors accented by bitter herbs, it is extremely flexible at the table, with the heft to handle rich foods but also the finesse and cut to work with lighter dishes. At its gentle price, I’d go deep. My rating: 90 points.
How much does it cost, and where can you find it? $20; De Maison Selections.