I will begin this post by stating that this was my first time tasting the Mencía grape in any bottling, and was also my first exposure to the wines of the Ribeira Sacra region. Before trying the wine, I had never really heard of the region, which has remained relatively obscure for most people. Upon first tasting this wine, I immediately realized its soul connection to Cabernet Franc, the darling red grape of Sancerre. However, the warm climate and drainage from extraordinarily steep terraces shows in the rich concentration and unique grip shown in the palate.
The wine is a beautiful ruby color in the glass, leading to aromas of red berries, licorice, fresh-picked herbs and roasted spices. In the mouth, I found more red fruits balanced to crisp acidity dominating what ends up being a light-bodied wine, but with silky tannins, and great chalky minerality. Great long finish for the price: $13.
Generally, if I am eating Asiatic cuisine, I pair it with aromatic German Riesling or Gewürztraminer. The trembling acidity of these wines cloaking their cores of honeyed sweetness – and generally in the case of Gewürztraminer, a spicier floral element – make them ideal companions for mild Thai curries, among other things. Sometimes, however, none of these wines are at hand. I can rarely purchase truly fine Riesling, in fact. As a result, I have needed to find alternatives.
Enter the 2008 Cono Sur Visión Viognier; I have made much ado about their Pinot Noir in the past, and this varietal earns similar praise. Distinct notes of peach, citrus zest, and a hint of vanilla spice, the result of 60% of the blend being aged six months in oak, shimmer on the nose off of a wine that shines golden in the glass. Stony white fruits in the mouth, more peaches, citrus, apricot, and refreshing acidity. Lingering clean finish. I would readily drink this with anything sweet and sour, or with fish or chicken dishes based on Teriyaki or ginger marinades. This wine was surprisingly good, something I am happy to report I see frequently in Chilean wines, and is a terrific value at $10.
While in France this April, we visited the caves of Mercier, one of the great producers, but apparently not so well known as some of the other producers from the region, like Bollinger, or Krug. They have over 230 hectares of vineyards, however, all on chalky sub-soil, and produce some very fine wine. Over 50 cuvees go into the final blend for this Brut, and it shows in the complexity of the final product. We opened our last half bottle recently, and what follows are my tasting notes.
A pale straw in the glass, with a glorious mousse, leading to zesty aromas of green apple and pear paired to a richly toasted element, like bread that has just been baked. Great acidity, crisp and biting, balanced to the bright fruit. This is not shy wine. The finish is also long and refreshing. Drink this on any occasion, but especially with oyster gratin, or lightly battered clams. $18.