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Bodega Profile – Bodega del Abad – DO Bierzo

Mencia

El Bierzo, has been referred to as ‘the gateway to Galicia’ for its lush green valley that gently guides you between two ominous mountains into DO Valdeorras in the southwestern corner of Galicia. Although I’ve only seen small glimpses of Galicia, I can only imagine how stunning this vision must be. But beyond its fertile planes and lush forests, Bierzo is also known for both its successful mining industry and its fertile vineyards planted primarily with both the red Mencia grape and its lighter, greener counterpart, Godello.

Both of these indigenous grapes tend to make incredible wine when coupled with good winemaking techniques, but Mencia, considered one of the top four Spanish red varietals, has carved quite a name out for itself as of recent. Known as Negra, or ‘the black grape’, it thrives in hot, relatively dry climates, and produces a medium to high yield. Physically, a medium-sized thick-skinned grape, ellipsoid in shape and deep purple in color, Mencia is relatively uninteresting if tasted off the vine, but elegant and supple in a wine. It is thought to be identical to Portugal’s Jaen grape variety, and at one time, the direct descendant of the French varietal, Cabernet Franc, known for it’s role in elaborating Cheval Blanc. Although, this rumor has been dispelled with DNA tests.

Historically, winemakers always knew of Mencia‘s potential, experimenting in every which way to nurture and coddle it into greatness; but short of playing classical music in the fields and massaging the vines, the results were poor, typically producing light, pale, slightly fruity wines with herbal notes. Not the wine you want to announce to the global market, whereby relegating it to the local shops and bars.

Fortunately, times have changed, as Bodegas del Abad has exemplified by meticulously handpicking and hand sorting their grapes, utilizing better crop management, upgrading their equipment to temperature controlled fermentation tanks, aging their wines in oak barrels from Bordeaux and guaranteeing absolutely strict hygienic conditions. This mindset was not the norm 30 years ago in Bierzo, but as a result of bodegas like Abad, Mencia wines can now be powerful and rich, yet still retaining a subtle nuance. Often the color will be a deep maroon, though we have found good examples that tend to be on the lighter side as well. Typical flavors are of earth, herbs of Provence (think mint, rosemary, thyme), dark fruit (raspberry, black cherry, blackberry) and black pepper coming to the forefront as well.

2005 Abad Dom Bueno.jpg

Of the 3 Bodega del Abad’s wines we tasted, the 2005 Carracedo made with 100% Mencia was by far our favorite. Deep, dark, raspberry in color with a rich and elusive nose showing black pepper, plume, cigar box, chocolate, tanned leather and roast beef, followed by a bouquet of flowery aromas. Light body with medium acidity and silky fine tannins, we both were surprised that the 9 months in oak didn’t give the wine a little more body. It did, however, give the it a lush, creamy mouthfeel. This is a wine that needs a little time to open, to breathe, eventually showing deeper red fruit on the palate and the nose. Fabulous grilling wine!

Both the 2005 Bodega del Abad Bierzo Gotín del Risc Essencia and the 2005 Bodega del Abad Bierzo Abad Dom Bueno Roble were equally wonderful wines as well, but of the two, I leaned more towards the Gotin del Risc Essencia. Maybe part of its attractiveness stems from my nastalgia caused by the bouquet. An incredibly intense red rose aroma showed immediately on the nose, reminding me of my grandmother’s homemade potpourri packet she proudly flaunted on the outside of the bathroom door. Underneath this powerful aroma showed softer notes of raw meat and stewed cranberries. Attractive and enticing actually. The palate she had in her bathroom with a hint of raw meat and stewed cranberries. And although tight in the beginning, a characteristic of Abad wines, it eventually opened to clove, black pepper, raspberries and a touch of asian spice.

Are they available by you? Good question? In the UK, Glass & Company does provide everything but the Gotim del Risc.

The USA, Frontier Wines have provided this information for us:

  • Abad Dom Buelo Crianza 2001 Estimated price $26.00 per bottle
  • Abad Dom Bueno Godello 2006- $14.00 per bottle
  • Abad Dom Bueno Roble 2003 – $15.00 per bottle
  • Carrecedo 2003 – $66.00 per bottle.

Additional Tasting Notes are provided below.

Cheers,
Gabriella

D.O.C/V.R.: D.O. Bierzo
Address: Carretera Nacional 6 Km 396, 24549 Carracedelo Spain
Telephone: +0034 987 562 417
Fax: +0034 987 562 428
Email: [email protected]
Webpage: www.bodegadelabad.com
Bodega Founded: 2003
Hectares of Vines: 35
Grape Varieties Grown: Mencía and Godello
Production in Liters: 300,000
Winemaker: Jose Luis Santin Vazquez
Wines Elaborated: Carracedo, Gotin del Risc and Abad Dom Bueno
Importers:
USA – Frontier Wine Imports handle both their Carracedo and Abad Dom Bueno wines
USA – Table 31 Imports only handle their Gotin del Risc label
UK – Glass & Company, Contact [email protected]

Ryan’s Tasting Notes

    2005 Bodega del Abad Bierzo Carracedo – Spain, Castilla y León, Bierzo (9/21/2007)
    Deep rich red, concentrated raspberry in color. The nose is a nice change from the overly earthy Mencia that I often taste. Bright, violet aromas, hibiscus, and hawthorn, overall more floral at the start than I’m used to. In the mouth this is a lush and rich wine, with flavors that make me think that there are berries yet to be discovered, maybe a raspberry-cherry hybrid with a dash of violet and a subtle hint of Macintosh apples. Odd, but compelling. As I go to taste again I get notes of wood and a hint of smoke on the nose and mouth is left with rich thick tannins that are smooth and creamy. Wow a wine that really is a balanced, where the acidity melds seamlessly into the fruit and structure. Grilled meat notes creep up on the nose and I have to say this wine will show best in an hour or two more, or after about 5-10 years in bottle. I expect after some time in bottle this wine will become a soft breeze of flowers and berries, that would call for light oven roasted meats, and maybe even a bit of duck.
    2005 Bodega del Abad Bierzo Gotín del Risc Essencia – Spain, Castilla y León, Bierzo (9/21/2007)
    Deep red but not as intense as it’s siblings. The nose on this wine is focused on wood, but not only oak, rather the stemming core of a bramble bush, that holds the black raspberries I feel are behind it. Light plum notes that give way to raw meat, and teriyaki, and faint clove. I need this wine to open more than just a quick decanting and 1/2 hr of air. Full bodied and unctuous with creamy richness evident that oak is playing a bigger role in this wine. Fine tannins and medium acidity with simple notes of red fruits and vanilla spice. This is a wine that I hope develops past the oak and tight fruit. Definitely a wine for charred steak, but I’ll wait to see what else develops.
    2005 Bodega del Abad Bierzo Abad Dom Bueno Roble – Spain, Castilla y León, Bierzo (9/21/2007)
    Nice rich red color with a nose that starts with an oak introduction followed by earthy tar which melds into concentrated black raspberry. Somewhat one dimensional with a light minerality the nose is a harbinger of the palate to come. Med acid, firm fine tannins, and an overall light body with a bit too much of an alcohol heat on the finish. The flavors are of raspberry,eventually blueberry, fresh with light green hints, maybe mint or even oregano and sage. Fun and alive, and lighter version of most Mencias, but still with the tannins. I expect this to open up some over the next hour and develop into a great Friday night pizza wine, or something to go with grilled white meats.


Gabriella’s Tasting Notes

    2005 Bodega del Abad Bierzo Carracedo – Spain, Castilla y León, Bierzo (9/21/2007)
    Very deep and concentrated ruby red, showing a rich and elusive nose with black pepper, plume, cigar box, chocolate, tanned leather and roast beef. Although lighter in body than I expected, the mouth is round and lush with big red fruit flavors, some floral elements and an undercurrent of both wood and subtle baking spices. Not the most predictable Mencia, but delicious all the same. Round and creamy mouthfeel, thick and chewy tannins, bright acidity with firm structure. Integrated, balanced and elegant. Fabulous wine for a big juicy steak or even a fatty duck pate.
    2005 Bodega del Abad Bierzo Gotín del Risc Essencia – Spain, Castilla y León, Bierzo (9/21/2007)
    Dark brilliant red, noticeably more brilliant than either the Carracedo or the Dom Bueno. Deep rich red rose aromas on the nose with a slight forest floor, dark red fruit and rich spice undertones. As the wine slowly opened, a raw meat aroma intermingled with charcoal and stewed cranberries notes. Incredibly inviting, so much so that I actually became hungry just smelling the wine. Extremely rich and full bodied wine with a creamy mouthfeel and medium acidity. Once decanted, the once elusive palate came alive with deep red fruit flavors and a touch of dark spice. I’m thinking grilled chicken with a creamy risotto.
    2005 Bodega del Abad Bierzo Abad Dom Bueno Roble – Spain, Castilla y León, Bierzo (9/21/2007)
    Concentrated ruby in color showing heavy oak in the beginning, eventually fading allowing the earthy black spices and rich cherry notes to come forth. Straight forward and basic on the palate with medium acidity, light body and firm tannins. If the acidity were toned down a bit, I might be more receptive to this wine. But as a result of its predominance, I found it difficult to appreciate the herbal and red fruit flavors. Good with pasta or pizza.