A Pair Of Bierzo Wines

(TORONTO, ON) – Bierzo is an upcoming wine producing region in Spain, northwest of the Spanish city of Léon, and most noticeably producing wines from the Mencia grape. As some wine writer said years ago, at the Wine Spectator, the Mencia grape produces wines akin to Pinot Noir on steroids.

Spain produces a good quantity of plonk. The best known area would be Rioja, but there are hot spots emerging, like the reds from the Toro region and, of course, Bierzo. My last time in Spain a couple of years ago, I remember a glass of good wine at a local bar was €1.5. If you were to serve wine at that price in Ontario, the LCBO police would be knocking at your door.

Generally speaking, 2013 was not a great vintage year for Spain, so it is with a bit of trepidation that I try an LCBO standard P’etalos.

It is dark ruby coloured and there is quite some power on the nose; far from what you might expect from a Pinot Noir. Aromas of sweet black cherries and blueberries predominate. There are also subtle nuances of mocha, date, and figs.

There certainly are steroids on the palate with, again, loads of black cherry and loam. The tannins are there, but so well integrated they are only noticeable if you go hunting for them.

This is one heck of a well made medium-bodied wine with a medium and smooth finish. Nothing is out of whack. Power and elegance.

Perhaps that writer in the Wine Spectator was right about the wine being on steroids, but Pinot Noir is not the comparator grape. I’d suggest it is like Merlot on Magic Mushrooms, due to certain plushness it possesses.

(P’etalos 2013, DOC Bierzo, Descendientes De J Palacios, Léon, Spain, 750mL, $24.95, 14%, LCBO #446484, Square Media Group Rating 90 /100)

Best to drink within the next couple of years. Not a cellar dweller.

Here now is a Bierzo Crianza, and a 2006, so senior to the one above. Crianza means at least 6 months in oak and 18 months in the bottle.

It’s almost purple in colour.

There are concentrated aromas of blackberry, cassis, and black cherry with a smidge of bacon and mocha in this ultra rich aromatic blessed wine.

Solid, dense, but remarkably smooth on the palate. Like liquid silk. Lots of black fruit. Super well integrated tannins. A heavy weight boxer with a delicate punch.

Not for the delicate a heart. If I can read the Spanish label it’s made from the Mencia grape.

(Abad Dom Bueno 2006 Bierzo DOC, Crianza, 13.6%, 750mL, Bodega del Abad, Carrceldo, Léon, Spain, LCBO #244699, Square Media Group Rating 92/100)

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About the Author

Robert Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC.

Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden.

Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he loves The Square. His motto is, “Have Story, Will Write.”

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