Geographically, EL BIERZO borders the provinces of LUGO, ORENSE and OVIEDO. EL BIERZO is the home of 55 wineries, 2800 wine growers and 10,000 acres of vineyards. The area is known for warm summers, cools nights with lots of precipitation. Small parcels, at 2000 feet altitude, are divided by numerous owners.
The winegrowers and winemakers believe EL BIERZO is similar to BURGUNDY, both in climate and terroir. The wines are from single vineyards, each with a story to be told regarding that specific piece of land and grape varietal. Similar to Burgundy's philosophy, the wines from EL BIERZO are aged in small,new,oak barrels and are named after the geographic area they are grown in.
The MENCIA grape is the most important variety in the production of red wines, while GODELLO is the best known white grape.
The MENCIA grape was introduced and cultivated in the Iberian Peninsula since Roman times. The grape recovered from the phylloxera epidemic of the late nineteenth century and since, has become the red grape behind the wines of El Bierzo. The varietal produces small and compact bunches, with medium-sized, thick skinned berries. The grapes age beautifully and are characterized with a velvety, smooth, round flavor. MENCIA is known for freshness, while the other red grape varietals used in winemaking include Syrah and Pinot Noir.
The white GODELLO grape has a depth of substance, with a floral, somewhat mineral, complex quality, thus resulting in a pleasent, pure wine.
At a recent seminar and tasting, hosted by VICTOR ARROYO ALBA, President of AUTOCTONA EL BIERZO, I sampled well over 50 wines and will list only those that are exported and worth buying, in my opinion.
The wines from this little known region, EL BIERZO, are wonderful, complex and interesting.
TENOIRA (Mencia) 2009
BODEGAS ADRIA "Pazo de Arribi" 2009
++My Favorite++ PEREZ CARAMA "El Vino de Los Consules de Roma" 2009
BODEGAS PIEQUE "Ramon Valle" 2008
BODEGAS MARTINEZ YEBRA "Tres Racimos" 2007
BODEGAS LUZDIVINA AMIGO "Baloiro" 2007
BODEGA CASTRO VENTOSA "El Castri de Valtuille" 2007
LUNA BEBERIDE "Art" 2009
BODEGAS ESTEFANIA "Pagos de Posada" 2003
PHILIP S. KAMPE
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