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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:

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: vinos@bodegadelabad.com
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 djulia@aglass.co.uk

Ryan’s Tasting Notes


Gabriella’s Tasting Notes

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