Tuesday, May 7, 2019

A Portela 2014

A month ago we tasted the wines of Ole Imports of Spain and proceeded to order two dozen new Spanish and Portuguese wines.  Last time we posted about the 2016 Zestos Blanco, our best buy among the whites.  This time our subject is the best red in the bunch.

Like Zestos, A Portela is old vine wine.  This time the the vines are 20-25 years old and the D.O. (place of origin) is Valdeorras in northwestern Spain.  In the latter half of the first century Rome mined gold there, hence the name, "Valley of Gold."  Viticulture followed the mining there and just like always, the church took over the management of the vineyards and wine making.

The grape type here is Mencia (men-thee-ah) which is only grown on the Iberian Peninsula.  Genetic testing has shown Mencia to be a cross between two Portuguese parent grapes so it has its origin across the border.  Again like Zestos, this wine is sourced from 2,000 ft elevation vineyards and the soil is a mix of slate, granite and clay.  Typically Mencia is 85% of a blend utilizing other indigenous varieties to flesh it out.

If you are a Pinot Noir lover, Mencia may be up your alley.  Earthiness and red fruit flavors and aromas dominate here.  Additionally Mencia wines may show black pepper, minerality and either a floral or vegetal character.  This is complex wine and it's our olfactory system that best comprehends what's going on here.

Think of your flower garden or better yet, the spice rack in your kitchen.  What so overwhelms us with spices are terpenoids, the organic chemicals that abound in sixty percent of all plants, only more so with spices.  Mencia grapes display the exceedingly rich aromas of those organic chemicals.  No oak aging is required for such a wine.

A Portela is a twelve acre estate.  Before fermentation the grape juice (with skins) receives a five day pre-soak at forty-five degrees to enhance the aromas.  Then after fermentation the soak-with-skins continues for ten more days for more color and tannins.  The wine is then aged for seven months in stainless steel.

Mencia is recommended as an accompaniment to chicken, pork, salmon or whatever you typically have with your Pinot Noir.  

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