One of the exciting things happening in wine is the rediscovery of indigenous varieties in the aouth of Europe. Wines that taste a little different – and in a good way. I recently tasted a pair of reds that sort of resembled Cabernet/Merlot, but with their own story to tell. They are not cheap but worth exploring when you’re up for a splurge, and an adventure.
The Mencia grape was once thought to be Cabernet Franc and it delivers richness with a refreshing touch. The signature of a cooler red region – Bierzo, in the northwest of Spain. Think Cabernet with a smooth Spanish feeling. Fancy wine that’s also fun. Made me long for any red meat off the grill, with fresh herbs for sure.
Moving to Rapsani, on Mount Olympus in central Greece, we find a red with more of a spicy/sweet, warm climate feeling. It’s medium bodied with a combination of freshness, and where’s-the-beef feeling. A three gape blend of Xinomavro, Krassato and Stavroto.
Who needs Cabernet when you can have Krassato, or hold the Merlot, and pour Mencia.
CASAR de BURBIA 10 Mencia, Bierzo, Spain 392530 Vintages $19.95
TSANTALI 10 Rapsani Reserve, Greece 734855 Vintages $18.95