Twenty years ago Mencia was not part of the curious wine drinker’s vocabulary. Now some of the world’s most dramatic and beautiful terraced vineyards are producing piercingly pure, fresh red wine. Google the area and be gobsmacked by how hard the work must be to prune, work and harvest from these dizzying slopes. Some so steep, one slip and you’d be sliding down into the river.
This one has that typically smokey reductive nose that always make me think of the Northern Rhone. Mencia, Jancis says, is no relation to Syrah. Perhaps it’s the soil and river side? The slight pong clears to delicious raspberry freshness and a full palate of almost tart berries where the mouthwatering acidity just wins over the fine tannins. Long and lip smacking indeed. Nice layer of darker sweet jamon lurks beneath. Really, who needs oak with something this pristine?
Sometimes spending twice the usual weekday budget’s worth it.
13% alcohol. Cork. $36.
One of the great bargains. Very old vines, low yields, hand picked and still $22. This vintage shows the warmth of a fast and early year. Dark red fruits and leathery coal dust. Warm hearted fine tannin and a touch of acid hold it together. Not quite the accumulated fruit depth of 2015 or 2014 but still complex and comfortable.
14.50%. Screw Cap. $22.
Rory’s story title for this vintage was ‘Go’ referencing the early vintage when everything ripened frantically at the same time. Looks like he kept his focus and made a beautifully clean, rich expression of some great fruit. It smells of earthy blackberries, plums and woody herby stems from some whole bunches. A little bit of age has opened up the fruit which is a wonderfully rich mouthful of black fruit held together by those chewy stems. The acidity’s melded well into those ripe tannins. Really scratches that Shiraz itch. The Story’s not a front page sensation but the tale has integrity, great value and deliciousness.
13.50% alcohol. Screw Cap. $27.
The Grampians and Great Western, a place of quiet brilliance. Never had the scale of production or popularity but for a few of us a favourite Australian Shiraz. Somehow it makes wine without those sometimes too raucous eucalypt perfumes of Victoria. This is bright with dark berries and plums all in perfect harmony with that sweetly savoury tarry earthiness of those dusty soils. Oak’s a faint seasoning. The scale is the big hearted Aussie Shiraz but there’s a poised balance of perfume and earth, firm tannin, acid and fruit that’s unlikely in it’s subtle assurance. Given time, the fruit should get nice and sweet. Best’s go on their quiet way. In the last few vintages the alcohols are getting lower and the sense of place more in focus.
14% alcohol. Screw Cap. $25.
Third post on my attempt at a blog and it’s another Grenache. Happy it suits the autumn cool, the weekday budget and the rustic hedonist. Appears to make nicely ripe tasty wine in South Australia’s warmth too. This one’s a Dan’s exclusive and a move in the right direction from overwrought big boned Shiraz. This bargain is slightly rose petal and floral anchored by that coal dusty raspberry typical of the Barossa. Really can’t see any oak flavour and the extraction’s more like a gently made Pinot than a Chesty Bonds Shiraz. Finally the acid seems natural and well settled into the whole, not always the case in wine at this price. You can only hope the suggestion Grenache is getting hip is mere hype. If Murphy’s want to dominate large scale wine sales, may it be with stuff like this.
14.50% alcohol. Screw Cap. $14.99.
More Grenache or Garnacha in Spanish. Really do like this variety’s round honest ripeness that can still cling onto some good acidity and finish. A Dan Murphy direct import from Spain’s north east where it seems this heat loving camel of a grape thrives. Opens a little meaty and reduced but relaxes to simple but nicely ripe red fruits. A good medium to light mouthful of raspberry and herbs with some minerally cut, that from my limited experience Borja and Navarra do seem to manage. No great depth but a balanced ripeness comfortable in its own skin. Astonishing that it can be grown, picked, made and bottled and hurled half way round the world for less than a tenner. Prefer it to its more expensive sibling, Tres Picos, which gets a bit too ripe and has some unnecessary sour oak flavouring. I’m almost bullish about this.
13.50% alcohol. Screw Cap. $8.90.