Bierzo: to the top with the Mencia variety
At the beginning of the 90s, the Bierzo region, which is crossed by the Camino de Santiago, was barely known in the international wine scene. It was only when new residents and investors began to bottles top crus from selected slopes, which perfectly united finesse and force, that interest in this region and its primary variety grew. This variety, Mencia, is considered one of the highest quality red wine varieties in the Iberian Peninsula.
Red wines from Bierzo
Exceptional winemaker Alvaro Palacios had a significant contribution to the renaissance of Priorat in Catalonia. In 1999, he launched a second pioneering project in an almost forgotten part of Castile and Leon. Grape growers in Bierzo had already cultivated the high-quality Mencia variety for generations. However, the cooperative structure that prevailed there was not successful in exploiting the potential of the best sites for high-quality wines. Palacios, along with his family, began to press exclusive cru wines from selected slopes. He motivated a number of other investors and oenologists to come to Bierzo and cultivate top wines.
Steep slopes yield top crus
Surrounded by mountains in the foothills of the Cantabrian Range, Bierzo is a valley basin in the transition area between Castile and Léon and the Galicia and Asturias regions. The vines here are rooted between 450 and 1,000 meters above sea level. The majority of wines of moderate richness grow in the alluvial soils of the valley plain; however, the high altitude, steep slopes are mostly terraced and only able to be cultivated by hand, resulting in highly expressive crus of great density and independent character. Thanks to the soils, which are dominated by sedimentary rocks, quartzite and especially slate, these crus also demonstrate a pronounced mineral character. Some top wines here present the finesse of Pinot Noir and the robust structure of Cabernet.
Perfect mixed climate
The climate is also perfect for viticulture. It is not as humid and rainy as neighboring Galicia, but also not as hot and dry as the other areas of the Castile and Léon region to which Bierzo belongs. Thus vineyards here lie in a transition area, influenced by both cooler Atlantic air and the hot summers of continental climate zone. Precipitation levels are ideal, with around 700 millimeters per year per square meter. In addition to the main variety of Mencia, the red variety Garnacha Tintorera and the white Godello, Palomino and Doña Blanca cultivars are grown in Bierzo.