2020 Bodegas y Vinedos Raul Perez, Mencia, La Vitoriana Lomas de Valtuille, La Vizcaina, Bierzo, Spain.
I love this Bierzo La Vitoriana Lomas de Valtuille Mencia with its raw earthy character and complexity with this 2020 showing all of the elements that make it so compelling with a beautiful dark garnet hue in the glass, a dry medium bodied palate and pretty aromatics this vintage very much impresses me, it feels like a step up from the 2016 I last tried back in 2020. The core in this dark fruited and taut wine is black cherry, plum and red berry fruits and is nicely accented by subtle leather, sweet and sour herbs, cedar and dark floral notes with a touch of grainy stoniness and mineral tones. Coming from hardened clay and sandy granite soils in the Valtuille, the La Vitoriana is most all Mencía, but winemaker Raul Perez usually includes other grapes in a field blend, with maybe some Bastardo (Trousseau), Garnacha Tintorera (Alicante Bouschet), Doña Blanca and Palomino (both white grapes) being included. The grapes are all co-fermented using whole-cluster and indigenous yeasts with primary being done typically in large oak vats with two month macerations before elevage in well seasoned French oak barrels, then bottled unfined and unfiltered. Raul Perez, who I’ve been lucky enough to taste with on a few occasions, is the Godfather of Mencia and is regarded as one of Spain’s greatest winemakers, noted for his natural methods and traditional approach.

The iconic Spanish winemaker, Raúl Pérez, as noted here in prior reviews, is one of the world’s most admired vignerons known for his intuitive winemaking genius and natural focus crafting an amazing set of wines from his base in Valtuille de Abajo in Spain’s Bierzo region. Perez, as noted here at Grapelive, who made his first commercial wine at the age of 22, started his own Bodegas y Vinedos winery in 2005 and while producing his legendary wines he has also offered guidance and has been a great mentor to many rising talents throughout Spain, including Veronica Ortega and Pedro Rodriguez of Guimaro, as well as many others. He has also championed the native varietals found in Rias Baixas, Ribeira Sacra, Tierra de Leon and of course in his native Bierzo in the greater Castilla Y Leon zone, but is best known for his work with Mencia, a dark skinned grape usually found in Galicia, like the Ribeiro Sacra, here in Bierzo and in cooler parts of Portugal, it makes for a dark colored red wine with bright acidity and has been compared to Cab Franc, Gamay, Syrah and Pinot Noir depending on its terroir and vintage. This 2020, which is like blending Chinon and Gigondas, is tannic and structured, but pleasingly rounded in the mouth, with a bit of a bite to it, it gets better and better as it opens up and is other worldly with simple country style cuisine, think winter stews, goat shoulder and or lamb dishes, and or hard cheeses, drink it over the next 5 years. One note that should be made clear, is that this wine is a food wine, it folds together best with a meal, making a night and day difference to your experience, not something to forget with these Perez wines.
($40 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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