Wine of the Week – An Aged Rioja That’s Drinking Beautifully – 2009 Mencos Rioja Crianza – Team Table Wine tasted a bunch of wines this past week in consideration for our next Wine of the Week, and this one came out as the clear winner. Trust me, we tasted close to 40 wines with our best reps, and this one stood out among some other great candidates. Think about it, how often do you get the opportunity to buy a 91 point rated, perfectly aged red wine for less than $20? I’ll go ahead and answer for you — RARELY! This 100% Tempranillo-based wine is in prime form right now, offering up an incredible mix of savory, spice accented fruit and a complex Indian spices.
Imported by North Carolina’s own Andre Tamers and De Maison Selections, Mencos is the project of Íñigo Manso de Zúñiga Ugartechea…….try saying that three times fast! Íñigo owns prestigious plots of old vines in Rioja Alta, and his family has been selling to the likes of Campo Viejo for many years. Íñigo trained at the University of Bordeaux in France, and this training taught him to respect balance and restraint over power and concentration. His philosophy at the estate is based on harvesting ripe grapes that are not overly mature, and the idea behind his Mencos wines is to create a line of traditionally styled Rioja from his younger vineyards.
The 2009 vintage in Rioja was hot and dry and resulted in “solid wines with ripe fruit,” according to Wine Spectator. After tasting this wine, I would agree that this wine lives up to that assessment. From a beautiful organically farmed parcel of 35+ year old vines on the south side of the Ebro River, this vineyard is composed of chalky clay over gravel, the perfect site for Spain’s noble Tempranillo grape. Fermented in stainless steel with indigenous yeasts, the wine is aged for 12 months in American oak. The result is a wine that shows some of the classic complexity of traditional Rioja along with some of the riper fruit nuances of modern Rioja.
The wine pours a beautiful, deep ruby color, and I was immediately taken with the bouquet of the wine. I was greeted with notes of warm spices (think cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, etc.) wrapped around ripe dark cherry, raspberry, and plum. On the palate, the wine is medium to full bodied and quite silky with a lovely mix of red and dark berry flavors, along with notes of complex spice, balsam wood, vanilla, and just enough grip to keep things connected.
2009 Mencos Rioja Crianza:
“Deep ruby. Fresh cherry and dark berry aromas are complicated by vanilla and smoky Indian spices. Chewy and expansive on the palate, offering smoke-accented cherry compote and black raspberry flavors and an invigorating kick of minerality. Closes silky and long, with a hint of dark chocolate and gentle tannic grip.”
91 points Josh Raynolds – Vinous Media