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 â€“ 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 youâ€™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 â€“ Bierzo, in the northwest of Spain. Think Cabernet with a smooth Spanish feeling. Fancy wine thatâ€™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. Itâ€™s medium bodied with a combination of freshness, and whereâ€™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. Â
CASAR de BURBIA 10 Mencia, Bierzo, Spain 392530 Vintages $19.95
TSANTALI 10 Rapsani Reserve, Greece 734855 Vintages $18.95