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Editor at large Harvey Steiman joined Wine Spectator in 1983; his tasting beats are Australia, Oregon and Washington.
Harvey Steiman

A Spanish Red for Lovers of Pinot Noir

Viña Reboreda Mencía Ribeiro 2008

Harvey Steiman
Posted: February 16, 2011

Admittedly, my three exposures to the lovely, delicate Spanish red wines made from the Mencía grape constitute a limited sample range. But if the ones I have tried are indicative of what’s possible with this grape, Mencía may be the answer for those of us who love the fragility and refinement of Pinot Noir but wish the prices could be less daunting.

By the glass for $12 at Rivera, the pan-Latino restaurant in downtown Los Angeles, Viña Reboreda Mencía Ribeiro 2008 hinted at sassafras, tobacco and chocolate around its central thread of haunting berry flavors. The best thing, though, was the balance. It had acidity, but it wasn’t sharp, and it had delicacy without veering into the wimpy range. It tasted great with a series of small plates. 89 points, non-blind.

WineSpectator.com members: Get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated Spanish wines made from Mencía.

Mike Olszewski
Newcastle, WA, USA —  February 16, 2011 4:04pm ET
Thanks Harvey for highlighting a wine made from the Mencia grape. Ever since Tom Matthews matched the 2007 Palacios Petalos with Charlie Trotter’s 96-hour goat dish at the 2009 NYWE, I have been on a quest to find and try Mencia based wines. (For the record, I loved and bought the Petalos but thought the 2007 Morlet Syrah was the better fit with the dish.) The latest Mencia discovery has been the 2006 Casar de Burbia from Bierzo. Like most Bierzo’s, it is made from Mencia but has a bit of Garnacha, which adds complexity and a stiffer backbone to the wine. Tom gave this wine an 89 but I think he may have been a bit conservative with the score in that it seems to improving with some age. I have not tried a Mencia wine from the Ribera del Duero yet, but look forward to tracking down and drinking the wine you mentioned.
Rob Dobson
Off the Grid —  February 16, 2011 4:16pm ET
Sounds a bit like Nerello Mascalese...
Thomas Matthews
New York City —  February 16, 2011 6:11pm ET
Mike,

You have an amazing memory! Thanks for the shout-out, even though you did prefer the Morlet with Emeril's dish.

Harvey had the DOC of this wine slightly wrong (it's now corrected) — easy to do with Spain! It's not from the Duero (nor Ribera), but from Ribeiro, which is part of Galicia, in Spain's green northwestern corner. It's better-known for whites. If you want truly amazing Mencia, look to Bierzo (where the Petalos is from). But I agree with you and Harvey that the grape is making some delicious wines in Spain.

Thomas Matthews
Executive editor
Wine Spectator
Mike Olszewski
Newcastle, WA, USA —  February 17, 2011 12:32pm ET
Tom,

Thanks for clearing the confusion on the DO of the Vina Robereda. In Harvey’s defense, however, I believe the root of the confusion starts with the distributor of the wine in southern California. In searching for the wine, I found it at one wine shop listed as a “Ribera del Duero”. The wine appeared not to be in the shop’s inventory but was apparently being sold off a distributor’s list (required an extra five days to ship). I am guessing that the shop was simply quoting from the distributor’s “shelf talker”, that incorrectly stated the wine as a Ribera del Duero and not a Ribeiro. Perhaps, this mistake carried through to the restaurant where Harvey had the wine. Nevertheless, it is nice to see the wines from Galicia in the northwest of Spain receive more exposure and to know there is more to explore beyond just the terrific Albarinos from Rias Baixas.

Mike

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