Mencía In Depth: New Releases From Guímaro
by Ariana Rolich
Mencía first gained respect as a gateway to Spanish wine for lovers of young, juicy, high-acid reds. This offering highlights the deeper, more sumptuous side of Mencía, exemplified by the stunning single vineyard bottlings from Guímaro. The Amandi subzone of Galicia's Ribeira Sacra is home to precipitous, south-facing slate slopes, where Pedro Rodriguez and his parents farm 8 hectares organically. Prior to the formation of the Ribeira Sacra D.O. in 1997, Rodriguez's family sold most their wine for consumption at local cantinas. The emergence of the appellation spurred Guímaro ("rebel" in the local Gallego dialect) to eliminate chemical treatments and attend to the nuances of their terroir, resulting in bold, balanced grapes and increasingly spirited wines of place.
Low yields and back-wrenching vineyard work mean every bunch of fruit is precious and every wine expressive of its soil, age, and aspect. Mencía displays range reminiscent of Gamay to some palates and Cabernet Franc to others; some wines reveal aromas and earth that harken to Syrah. Such comparisons are helpful introductions, but fail to illustrate the unique character within and interplay between these wines. The proliferation of serious interest in artisanal Spanish wines allows us to extend the exploration of single-parcel expressions from our favorite growers in Beaujolais, the Loire, and the Rhone to regions like Galicia, Manchuela, the Duero, and beyond. Aside from the immediate pleasure of drinking incredibly flavorful and well-made wines, there is nothing more rewarding than the chance to peek at a carefully tended patchwork of vines through the tastes and textures in our glass.
Guímaro's whites are based on Godello, another Galician variety capable of deep and myriad expression. Fleshy and supple, chiseled and sleek, silken and earthy -- all of these combinations are possible. It is a great joy to engage with the range of Godellos that have become available to us and Guímaro's are no exception. The new vintage of the textured, spicy, skin-contacted GBG has arrived alongside a limited new cuvee, the airy, delicate, and herbal 2011 Joven Blanco.-AR
(To purchase the wines click here or on each individual wine below.)
Guimaro 2011 Ribeira Sacra Joven Blanco
Invigorating and zesty 100% Godello from 50-70 year-old vines, raised in stainless steel tank with six months on the lees. The nose foreshadows the marked minerality of this wine, alongside sea salt, white tea leaves, lime blossom and crisp peach flesh. Fresh and fascinating flavors of gooseberry, rosy peach skins, lemon drops, aloe, thyme, subtle pine, and a lasting hint of bitter almond on the finish. Only 100 cases of this wine were produced and we are pleased to have the entire East Coast allocation. Utterly unique at its price point and a welcome harbinger of spring. Stock up! -AR
Guimaro 2011 Ribeira Sacra GBG Godello
GBG is 85% Godello, 10% Treixadura and 5% Dona Blanca with two days on the skins and a year on its lees. Warm cloven spice, musky baked apples, dried hay, and a touch of burnt rubber on the nose, with a broad gilded palate of earthy yellow apple, ripe white peaches, marigold flowers, spicy wheat beer, and savory mustard seeds. This is a grand and textured wine with ample acidity to balance the richness and spice. A beautiful wine on a chilly night to pair with richer seafood, smoked fish, tangy aged cheddars, classic herb pesto, and roasted chicken or game birds. -AR
Guimaro 2010 Ribeira Sacra Finca Capelinos
100% Mencía from a 0.6 hectare, southwest facing, slate and granite plot of 95-year-old vines; foot-trodden and fermented with native yeasts and 40% whole clusters, A dreamy nose of strawberry ice cream, orange custard, black peppercorns, rosewater, and licorice on the nose with a deep, dry palate of dark ripe raspberry, lime curd, earthy green nettles, fresh figs, anise seed, and a puff of steely gunpowder, with terse young tannins and a long, salty mineral coat on the finish. Capeliños gushes from the bottle with charm and complexity on full display and is a gracious introduction to serious Mencia. Pair with sausages, braised meats, salty and spicy things. -AR
Guimaro 2010 Ribeira Sacra Finca Meixeman
Finca Meixemán comes from 1.2 hectares of 70-year-old southeast facing vines on schist-heavy soils and is vinified just like Capelinos. Sultry and spicy with blackberry briar, dill fronds, coriander, celery seed, cumin, and soil on the nose. The palate is long, deep and clear with soft dark cherry, raspberry juice and seeds, rosey red plums, hibiscus tea and watermelon rind is anchored by intense acidity and young tannic scratch. Meixemán is powerful without being decadent or dense, recommended for lovers of young Brouilly. Open well in advance or decant. -AR
Guimaro 2010 Ribeira Sacra Finca Pombeiras
Pombeiras is Guímaro's only 100% whole cluster cuvee, from 0.45 hectare plot on a southeast facing slate and granite slope. Pombeiras takes a little extra time to open but compensates the patient drinker with graceful fruit, herbal length, floral depth and a delicate creaminess that recurs from nose to finish. Birch bark, milky coffee, soft leather and green tobacco swirl through the nose; the palate is shifting layers of mulberries, kirsch, blood orange, spicy Darjeeling, pencil lead, violet and rose petals, and a salted caramel finish. Subtly glamourous and the herbal counterpoint to Meixeman's spice, Pombeiras is a Mencía to cellar and revisit. For immediate consumption, please open well in advance. -AR