Alvarez de Toledo Mencia Roble 2013
El Bierzo is a land of grapes and wine. It’s a vine-covered region full of tradition, history, culture, gastronomy and over 2,000 years of wine production. The Alvarez de Toledo family has roots in the region since the early 1500's. Today the estate is overseen by Ángeles Varela Mazón Álvarez de Toledo who has upheld and fine-tuned the viticultural traditions of her forbears. Mencía is the star of the show (ably supported by Godello) and here it is planted 420-500m above sea level, entirely hand-harvested, and the vines are predominantly between 40 and 60 years old.
“Being situated in a valley our climate is mild and humid, and our land has a special microclimate which is ideally suited to the agriculture of the area” describes Álvarez de Toledo. “The soils are composed of a mixture of fine elements such as quartz and slate. They catch water coming from the mountains down into the valleys and the vineyards are planted mainly on humid, dark soil which, being slightly acidic and low in carbonates, is typical of humid climates.”
Encircled by mountains, the dramatic terrain has acted as a partial barrier over the years, shielding the region from excessive external influences, thus allowing it to cultivate its own identity and culture. This strength of personality is exemplified by its calling card, the Mencía grape, which is now certainly having its moment in the sun having been something of a relative unknown on the international scene.
Known for its bold, heady, rustic and age-worthy red wines, 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.
Most planted and respected 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.