Bierzo - The kingdom of Mencya

The Bierzo, located in the northwest of Spain province of Leon, is a set of small valleys in a mountain area and a wide flat depression, and the home of the Mencia grape. Blessed with a very special microclimate, surrounded by mountains that protect it from north winds, its mineral rich slate soils bring  unique and fantastic wines.

Although Mencia is also planted in the neighbor areas like Valdeorras, Monterrei and Ribeira Sacra (see Ribeira Sacra post), here it almost occupies two/thirds of the vineyards. Almost unknown 10 years ago, now millions have fell in love with these elegant, fresh fruity, smooth tannins and mineral wines, with their distinct violet floral hint. Sometimes compared with the Cabernet Franc, Mencia is generally known as a wine that shows very well young, however some Bierzo producers are demonstrating that with the right balance of oak it ages well.

Other grape varieties planted in Bierzo include Garnacha, Tintorera, Godello, Doña Blanca, Malvasía and Palomino.

The Romans left their fingerprint in this area, and the presence of the Camino de Santiago has made Bierzo a natural place for the foundation of monasteries and convents, which abound both in villages and in the countryside. Don't miss the Monasterio de Santa Maria de Carracedo, a 10th-century monastery outside Carracedo or Las Medulas, used to be the most important gold mine in the Roman Empire, it’s now an spectacular UNESCO World Heritage
Some recommended wineries are Descendientes de J. Palacios, Dominio de Tares, Prada a Tope, Bodegas Estefania, Paixar and Losada.  Pick a wine and pair it with the delicious local meal Botillo. Salud!