2017 Bodegas y Vinedos Raul Perez, Ultreia, Mencia, Saint Jacques, Valtuille de Abajo, Bierzo DO, Spain.
The awesomely priced Ultreia Saint Jacques Bierzo Mencia based red from the famed Raul Perez is a deep and full flavored wine with lovely balance and energy that shows off its old vine concentration and clay based soil terroir. This multi vineyard field blend style red from Bierzo’s Valtuille zone comes from vineyard plots ranging in age from 80 to 120 years old shows Mencia in a richer form than say the Ribeira Sacra, but the small bit of Bastardo (believed to be Trousseau) and Garnacha Tintorera (Alicante Bouschet) plus lots whole bunches keeps things well balanced and the fruit is contrasted by a light earthiness, savory notes, spice and mineral elements. This 2017 is ripe and dark fruited with bright blackberry, plum, currant and black cherry layers as well as snappy herbal notes, cedar and cinnamon all flowing in a rush of vivid flavors and authentic character. The vines, for all of Perez’s lineup are all organic, and for this one, were all hand tended and harvested with the oldest being from plants that date back to 1900 and the youngest from 1940, making for a wonderful regional expression of varietal character and a wine with a proud sense of place and being, it is also a fantastic gateway into Raul’s brilliant set of vinous glories.
As mentioned here and across the world of wine, Raul Perez is a grand master of Mencia and the godfather of the Bierzo region with a huge impact on how this wine is seen, clearly defining what it is and should be. His influence and mentorship has launched a whole generation of Spanish winemakers with at least a dozen or more being on their way to super stardom, as well as progressing with his own collection of wines. This Ulteia Saint Jacques is one of Perez’s entry level bottlings, but you’d be hard pressed to find anything lacking here, though his upper end cru stuff is out of this world. The Saint Jacques was about 80% whole cluster and fermented with indigenous yeasts in large wooden vats with maceration(s) lasting between two and five months, which is a long cool period, which adds to the dimension in this beautiful Tinto. The wine, after primary is then rack to an assortment of vessels to age with a combination of French casks including 225L, 500L, foudre and with some of the wine seeing its elevage in cement cuve, after which the Saint Jacques was bottled unfined and unfiltered to preserve every nuance and show the purity of this wine’s personality. I love this fresh and easy to drink young red, well I love all of Raul’s wines, but this one delivers so much for the price it is impossible to resist, drink with simple country dishes, hard cheeses and or BBQ. It’s hard to imagine a better deal on such quality old vine, medium bodied stuff!
($20 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive