A Portela Mencia 2011
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
A Portela showcases the special terroir of Valdeorras in a rare way, as the region is now known primarily for white wine production. Hailing from the A Portela subdistrict where red grapes can ripen on a rounded hiltop, this aromatic Mencia is a perfect introduction to the hallmark red grape of Galicia produced by the hands of a winemaker who wants to keep the past alive.
Mencia, the hallmark grape of northwestern Spain, wears many hats. Ranging from rustic and powerful to high-toned and elegant, it is a variety that clearly reflects its terroir. In this case, A Portela comes from DO Valdeorras, the “gateway to Galicia.” Beloved in ancient times as the only place the Romans found that could grow olives so far north on their supply line, Valdeorras is warmer than its neighbors to the west, shielded by mountains from the cold wet winds of the Atlantic. It’s also cooler than its neighbor Bierzo to the east, similarly shielded from hot Continental winds by mountains. While this area is best known for white wine production (particularly Godello), Valdeorras was, historically, home to beautiful reds as well. Winemaker Alberto Orte produces A Portela from a single vineyard, planted to high elevation slate and granite soils. This combination of elevation, soil and temperate climate makes for an elegant, mineral-driven Mencia that carries both generosity of fruit and spice and also precise, elegant acidity. Truly a unique plot, it’s no wonder that the A Portela subdistrict is nicknamed the Gateway to Heaven!
Spanish red wine is known for being bold, heady, rustic and age-worthy, Spain is truly a one-of-a-kind wine-producing nation. A great majority of the country is hot, arid and drought-ridden, and since irrigation has only been recently introduced and (controversially) accepted, viticulture has sustained—and flourished—only through a great understanding of Spain’s particular conditions. Large spacing between vines allows each enough resources to survive and as a result, the country has the most acreage under vine compared to any other country, but is usually third in production.
Of the Spanish red wines, the most planted and respected grape variety is Tempranillo, the star of Spain’s Rioja and Ribera del Duero regions. Priorat specializes in bold red blends, Jumilla has gained global recognition for its single varietal Monastrell and Utiel-Requena has garnered recent attention for its reds made of Bobal.