Monday, November 10, 2008

LeDom's Selection of the Month: November 2008, Bodegas Estefania 2001 "Tilenus" Mencia Bierzo Spain

Despite the fact that this wine has been on the market for quite some times now, I thought that it will be a good idea to talk about it and put it back in your mind. 

2001 Tilenus Pagos de Posada Bierzo

2001 Bodegas Estefania "Tilenus" Pagos de Posada Mencia Bierzo Spain
Suggested retail price $42-46
Distributed / Imported by  Ibanez Pleven in NYC 

The winery Bodegas Estefania is located in Bierzo, between the village of Dehesas and Posada del Bierzo, roughly 6 km west of the main town Ponferrada

Situated west of Rias Biaxas, less than 100 km from the northeastern corner of Portugal (northwestern part of Spain), Bierzo is a wine region, part of the province of Leon (Castilla y Leon), which has been officially recognized as a DO (Denominacion de Origen) in 1989.

Nestled in the middle of a mountainous area, Bierzo benefits from a special climate and diverse micro-climates influenced by three important factors: the high altitude with steep slopes; the proximity with the humid, oceanic climate of Galicia and on the other side the proximity with hot, dry climate of Castilla. These factors complement each other and create an ideal climate with enough rain fall and hours of sunshine per year for growing healthy robust vines and achieve great ripeness.  

The mountain soils consist of a few feet of humid, dark earth on top of layers of quartz, schist and slates of the Licorella type (similar to the Priorat region). It is the perfect soil and climate to enable the indigenous red grape variety "Mencia" to flourish and ripen evenly on these high altitudes, somewhat cool climate, steep slopes planted vineyards. 

Mencia represents 70% of the red grape planted in Bierzo and taste a bit like a Cabernet Franc. It seems to have some of the same aromas and flavors characteristics. Some vineyards are between 50 to 100 years old. Nearly forgotten and practically instinct until the 70's, a few producers revived it and in the same time put Bierzo back on the map. 

Bierzo produces mainly red wines predominantly with the Mencia grape and a bit with Garnacha Tintorera too. It also produces some white made with the Galician grape Dona Blanca, Godello and Palomino, and sold more locally some rose.

Fairly unknown with only a few labels available in the US market, the red wines of Bierzo gained a bit more recognition over the last few years and Tilenus surely helped to convince consumers of the high quality of this appellation. Bierzo wine prices range from low $10 up to $60+, the former tend to be light, smooth, well rounded and the later are complex, rich, earthy, with a good tannic structure and balance which confer them ageing potential. 

Bodegas Estefania produces some of the most sought-after wines in the area, mainly as a result of their spectacular vine holdings that have been in the family for many years. these holdings include 36 hectares of vineyards, the majority of which are over 70 years old, and are planted on pure schist. Despite the richness and the complexity brought by the age of their Mencia vines, they still have to lower the yield and need to harvest at full ripeness to avoid the green notes, hints of bitterness and high acidity (which are some of the particularities of the grape).   

2001 Bodegas Estefania "Tilenus" Pagos de Posada Mencia Bierzo is a medium bodied yet rich and well rounded wine with good acidity and ripe raspberry notes, great for Fall season. It was produced with grapes from 80-100 years old vines. The fermentation occurred partly in stainless steel tanks and partly in oak barrels. It was then aged for 18 months in 70% new French oak barrels, and 30% older barrels. 

On the nose, fragrant aromas of raspberry, cherry fruit and red currant intermingled with hints of black pepper, spice and floral notes. The palate, somewhat rustic and earthy yet enjoyable and balanced, exposes great minerality as well as soft tannins and touches of bitter chocolate and mocha. It combines the structure of a Cabernet Franc, the soft, bright texture of a Pinot Noir and some of the spicy character of a Syrah.  

It will be ideal with a rack of lamb cooked with herbs and garlic and served with wild mushrooms and green beans. 

LeDom (du Vin) 


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