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Bierzo

FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO ARE HOOKED ON RIOJA BUT MIGHT LIKE TO VENTURE PAST THE USUAL BOTTLE OF CAMPO VIEJO, WHY DON'T YOU GIVE THE WINES OF BIERZO A TRY?


This little rather unknown DO region of Spain (pronounced Bee-eh-tho) is truly up and coming. No one really even knew about this region ten years ago, yet the Romans have been making wine here, well, since Roman times!

Bierzo is located in the northwest of Spain between Castilla y León and Galicia in the rich mineral/slate/granite soils where the Mencía grape is mostly grown. Mencía was given a bad rap after it was replanted, post phyllorexa, as it was producing light-bodied, diluted wines. It has obviously matured and wine makers have too and are now producing wine of worthy concentration and great complexity.

The big accolade of redefining this grape is a man by the name of Alvaro Palacios. This is the same guy that gave fame to the Priorat region in the 1990s. Alvaro and his nephew Ricardo claimed vineyards in the area and created wines with absolutely no resemblance to the light, diluted “quaffable" wines of yesteryear.

Other grape varieties planted in Bierzo include Garnacha Tintorera, Godello, Doña Blanca, Malvasía, Palomino and, in tiny bits and pieces, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo.

The area is by far one of the most beautiful in Spain. Rolling hills, green valleys dotted with ancient monasteries, and palaces of times gone by.

If you are venturing to Spain to visit the wineries and ultimately enjoy a travel experience, may I be so bold as to tell you to get off the beaten path and experience Bierzo. On the other hand if you are not going to travel...take a trip to your local private wine store and ask the guy stocking the shelves for a little undiscovered Beirzo wine.

 

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