The Tasting Panel magazine

September 2016

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Page 106 of 116

106  /  the tasting panel  /  september 2016 INVESTIGATING THE CHARACTER-LADEN WINES OF BIERZO, VALDEORRAS AND RIBEIRA SACRA by Eie Bufkin T he wines of northwestern Spain offer some of the most tremendous value in the market today. These wines can be complex and age-worthy and can vary in style and price. Mencía is the most commonly planted red varietal and is a grape that loves to talk about where it grows, and what grows nearby. In every direction, wild lavender and fennel are growing and filling the air with their welcoming fragrance, providing a unique bouquet. Many producers believe in interfering with this wine as little as possible. Rather, they opt to allow the natural flora and fauna of the region to add its own input during fermentation, and by using older, larger barrels, it allows the Mencía to mature into a medium to medium-plus body, full of earthy, meaty flavors. Modern producers have become steadily more common, with new French oak, flashy, modern facilities and much more full-bodied wines. While the vineyard terrain in both Bierzo and Valdeorras is generally too steep to be accessible by machine, Ribeira Sacra's unique layout prevents it entirely—steep, terraced valleys lining the Miño and Sil rivers make up five sub-zones and produce some of the most enticing Mencía available. Spain's VERDANT VALLEYS

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