INSIDER'S PICK: 2015 GUIMARO MENCIA RIBEIRA SACRA (Wine Advocate 90 points) $19.99
A new vintage for one of our favorite new finds in Spain last year, and it may even be better than before. The Mencia grape is prevalent in the region between Old Castile and the Galician provinces, or 'Green Spain', where the terrain is much hillier and cooler. The grape itself is far different than Tempranillo, at one time actually believed to be a genetic predecessor of Cabernet Franc and taken to Bordeaux during Roman expansion. Tests have proved otherwise, but wines like this make it very easy to understand how that connection could have been made.
Guimaro and winemaker Pedro Rodriguez take a more neutral, minimalist to their winemaking, and the resulting wine drinks much more like the reds from the Loire than they do from Bordeaux, trading weight and oak barrel aging for vibrancy and freshness. Dusty black cherry aromas with hints of savory herbs and soy, absolutely no signs of heat, perfectly capturing the uniquely cool and lush environment of Ribeira Sacra. On the palate the texture is medium bodied with an impressively polished mouthfeel, almost slippery with extremely fine tannins that show off the savory, gamy fruits. In comparison to the previous vintage, there is a tad more richness, bringing out some black tea and lingering cherry fruit characters through the finish, softening out more of the tartness across the finish. More substance here, but still not hanging from a heavy frame, and the comparison to some of the better Loire Cabernet Francs is even more apt. This is a much less 'in your face' style than what most people would expect from a Spanish wine, which is exactly what this wine should be because the grape and the region are unique to the rest of the Iberian Peninsula.
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