Floral and fruity Mencía can be a great variety for juicy red fruit wines. However, the best examples can age beautifully developing complex chocolate and earthy flavours.
Mencía now typically has a ripe round tannin structure (similar to Merlot) due to better plantings and understanding of the variety. The thick skins give high levels of colour.
It has strong flavours of cherry, pomegranate, liquorice and often lighter red fruits such as strawberries. These flavours are present because the grape variety has high levels of terpenoids, a compound that results in these aromas.
Mencía can often age well, at least for a few years. The best wines can easily age for 8-10 years creating layers of tertiary notes without losing the characteristic cherry and liquorice flavours.
Oak has been commonly used to age the wine. This is because the oaks’ tannin can improve the mouthfeel. New oak use should be carefully controlled as the flavours can quickly overpower the wine.
Due to the early ripening properties of Mencía, it is grown mainly in cool, wet locations in Spain.
This is the best known and celebrated region for Mencía. It is a small region located in north-west Spain in the Castilla y León. The success of Mencía has drastically improved the reputation and quality of the area. Bierzo DO is where the most complex and age-worthy wines are made. The increasing age of the vines has helped this.
Is located to the east of Galicia. It is best known for the production of white wine from Godello, however, Mencía is the most planted red variety. Mencía can be found both as a single variety but also blended with local varieties.
Ribeira Sacra DO
Centrally located in Galicia the vineyards are more protected than those situated on the coast. The regions’ name ‘Ribeira Sacra’ translates as Sacred Shore and there are a number of links to religious sites in the area. Mencía is the most planted grape variety of any colour.
Also located in Galicia this time on the Portuguese border. The region has an interesting history losing its DO status and then regaining it in the 1990s. Like Valdeorras, Godello is the most planted grape variety. Mencía is second and few red wines are exported.
In Portugal Mencía is called Jaen.
The Dao is the best location for Jaen and is located in the centre of the country between the cities of Lisbon and Porto and further inland. Other native varieties including Touriga Nacional are planted in higher quantities but some blended and unblended Jaen is produced.