James Suckling: 92 pts: “Vibrant aromas of raspberries, blackberries, thyme, oregano and orange zest. Licorice and cloves, too. Medium-bodied with soft tannins and bright acidity. So fresh, juicy and alive. A joy to drink now.”
Vinous: 91 pts. “Glistening ruby-red. Lively, spice-tinged cherry and cassis aromas show sharp definition and a complementary hint of violet. Juicy, focused and lively on the palate, offering dark berry and bitter cherry flavors that put on weight with air. Fine-grained tannins add subtle grip to a long, taut finish that echoes the spice and berry notes.”
Wine Advocat: 90 pts. “The nose of the red 2018 Cuveé de O Mencía shows notes of ripe berries despite being only 13.2% alcohol. It also has notes of violets and tar. It is roughly 90% Mencía and the rest a field blend of Garnacha Tintorera, Mouratón, Gran Negro, Sousón and Cariñena from old vines. It has notes of sour cherry and a bitter twist. It fermented in 5,000-liter flextank and matured in neutral 225-liter French oak barriques for eight months, during which time it also underwent malolactic. It has a medium-bodied palate with dusty tannins and pungent flavours. ”
D.O. Valdeorras lies wrapped around the Sil River as it meanders through the slate mountains of the interior of Galicia, bordering D.O. Bierzo and the province of León. Valdeorras is named for the significant mining for gold that the Romans carried out there. (Val-de-Orras roughly translates to Valley-of-Gold in Latin) Nowadays, the economy is centered around slate mining, with over 80 companies extracting slate from the mountains. This slate is the main component of the vineyards’ soils. Mencía has been grown in Valdeorras for millennia. This variety, Galicia’s most important red grape, takes on a completely unique expression in Valdeorras, which is perhaps less famous than nearby Bierzo and Ribeira Sacra for the production of red wine. That being said, the cooler climate and slate soils in Valdeorras produce a more elegant wine than in Bierzo, and the effect of the interior continental mesoclimate produce richer wines than in Ribeira Sacra. Bodegas Avancia, located in
O Barco de Valdeorras, produces under 2,000 cases of total Mencía production per year to celebrate this unique expression.
Cuvée de O Mencía is produced from two small vineyard sites located in the towns of Barreiros and Ferreiruscas. Planted in 1950 and 1980, respectively, these plots are both head trained, dry farmed, and cared for without the use of harmful fungicides, herbicides, or pesticides. These vineyards are in fact field blends, with extremely small quantities of other indigenous red Galician varieties making up the vineyards. Bodegas Avancia works with exclusively northeastern oriented vineyards. Valdeorras is an extremely hot region during the growing season, and the best vineyard sites are oriented to the northeast, which preserves the freshness and acidity of the grapes. As mentioned, the slate soils add an incredible minerality to the wine, and most importantly, these two vineyards are planted with the original clones of Mencía, which produce very small, dark berries. Both vineyards are planted on 30˚ slopes overlooking the Sil.
The grapes are hand harvested and sorted rigorously at the winery. The grapes macerate and ferment with indigenous yeast in small open top stainless steel tanks. Once completed, the wine is gently pressed in a vertical basket press over six hours to prevent the over-extraction of harsh phenolic compounds. The wine is transferred to neutral Burgundy barriques (225L) and demi-muids (600L) for malolactic fermentation and for six to eight months of ageing. The philosophy of this wine is to produce clean, varietally representative Mencía that allows the minerality of the slate soils and the terroir of the vineyard site to shine through by avoiding Brettanomyces and reduction.