2017 Guimaro, Mencia, Finca Meixeman, Ribeira Sacra DO, Galicia, Spain.
One of my favorite wines and favorite people, Pedro Rodriguez’s Guimaro Mencia bottling always bring smiles and offer authentic and terroir driven flavors that capture the soul of their region with pure drinking pleasures and this 2017 Meixeman Cru provides an earthy complexity and depth of fruit that transports you to this remote and ancient growing region in Spain’s wild Ribeira Sacra. Founded in 1991, Guimaro has now become an iconic winery within this small appellation in Galicia, and vigneron Rodriguez, who was mentored by the legendary Raul Perez, the Godfather of Mencia, has grown into his status has as one of the top winemakers in the Ribeira Sacra with a rebellious smile and with lots of classic heavy metal! I have been lucky enough to have spent some time with Pedro, on occasions he was visiting the Bay Area and have done some tastings with him and I really enjoyed his laid back nature and joyous love of life, it was impossible not to be caught up in his passion and humor. His hard work in the vines, really make these wines what they are and when you see the difficulty of hand tending the steep sites, you’d not believe you were looking at Spain, as the Ribeira Sacra “the sacred blanks” looks more like the steepest sections of the Mosel and there are places without any roads, some only accessed by small boats and by foot trails, it is not easy and historically none to profitable to farm these incredible vineyards. This Meixeman starts with a hint of reduction with earth and dark fruits leading the way, it quickly gains itself in the glass, becoming almost Nuits-Saint-Georges like in taste and feel with, a smooth medium body and layers of black cherries, tangy currants, wild plum fruits along with a crunch of mineral, grilled herbs, dried flowers, a touch of peppery spice, leather, woodsy notes and anise.
The Guimaro Finca Meixemán, as the winery notes, comes from a single old vine parcel of 72 year old Mencía vines that are set on schist soils up at about at 450 meters above sea level. This is the original family-owned Cru that started the Rodriguez’s estate and has a special place in their hearts, and in mine too, as I have always been thrilled by this particular wine and it was one of the first I tried from Guimaro. This special cuvée, according to Rodriguez, gets a unique vinification process that is specially tweaked to get the most out of these grapes, more like a traditional old school Burgundy. For the Mexican, in most vintages, the grapes are foot-trodden, with a partial 40% whole cluster and native yeast fermentation in an open top cono or conical wood fermenter. The maceration period is quite long with an extended period on the skins and raspónes, with no additions and almost no sulfur and then this Mencia gets aged for 12-14 months in neutral 225 liter French oak barrels. Pedro works his vines with organic methods and his wines are crafted with natural techniques, everything is done to make his wines have a sense of place and are ultra transparent in style with a feeling of raw openness or nakedness, nothing is covered up or manipulated here. Mencia, the main red varietal in the Ribeira Sacra, as well in the famous Beirzo region where it can be more rich and powerful, is a grape that has elements that will remind you of Syrah, Pinot and Gamay, especially here in this cooler Amandi zone that influenced by the Atlantic Ocean and the granite and slate based soils and elevation, where it retains loads of zesty natural acidity. Historically, since Roman times, the most famous Galician wines come from this Amandi area with its steep south facing hillsides above the Sil River, and tasting this Guimaro Meixeman you can see why. I highly recommend searching out these Guimaro wines from their basic tank raised Tinto bottling to their Cru Mencia wines, like this Meixeman and the Camiño Real, plus I love Pedro’s Vino Blanco, made from Godello.
($40 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive