Yes, you knew that it would only be a matter of time and a ridiculously inexpensive, wonderful Spanish Rosado would show up in my blog… And you also knew that it would be a little bit different, from a grape and region with which you are probably less familiar.
Bierzo is a delimited wine producing area (Denominación de Origen) in the northwest province of Léon (Castile y Léon) Spain. The region is relatively small and contains a mix of both mountainous (Alto Bierzo) and lowland plains (Bajo Bierzo) geography. The name of the region is derived from the pre-Roman city of Bergidum and it is from the Romans that the area inherited its culture of viticulture. Grape growing and wine making continued to flourish, with the Cistercian monasteries exploiting the viticultural capabilities of the region during the Middle Ages. The region became very popular in Galician and Asturian markets, but the invasion of the phylloxera root louse destroyed the vineyards completely. Further economic issues caused many people to leave the area and it wasn’t until recent times and the advent of rootstock grafting that the region began a rebirth. The DO was granted in 1989 and since then, continuous growth has brought Bierzo back from extinction.
The climate and soil of Bierzo are particularly well suited to grape growing, which in turn leads to fine wine production. The climate is a mix of both Galician and Castilian climates, combining humidity and rainfall with a hot, dry climate. The grapes achieve peak ripeness quickly, allowing them to retain acidity, promoting good balance and structure. The soil is a mix of loess with fine quartz and slate throughout, possessing a high degree of natural acidity.
The grapes allowed in Bierzo are Mencia and Garnacha Tintorera for reds and Doña Blanca, Godello and Palomino for whites. Any other varieties can only be used in Crianza and Reserva wines up to 15%. Various styles of wine are produced in the region ranging from young White, Rosado and Red wines to Reserva wines. Wines considered Crianza must be aged a minimum of 6 months in oak, plus an additional 18 months in bottle, while Reserva wines must be aged a minimum of 12 months in oak, plus an additional 24 months in bottle.
Armas de Guerra is part of the Vinos Guerra Empire, a large international export company that specializes not only in Galician wine, but also in anisette, brandy and a peculiar brand of Bierzo Coca Cola. Vinos Guerra recently joined the relatively young cooperative of Vinos del Bierzo. The cooperative was founded in 1963 and utilizing the best technology and equipment from France, undertook the mission of increasing the sales of Bierzo wines, which would directly contribute to the preservation of Bierzo’s ancient vineyards. The cooperative represents about 40% of total wine sales for the region and through continuous reinvestment, promotes quality improvements across all of its members.
The Armas de Guerra Mencia Rosado is a beautiful rosé wine made from 100% Mencia grapes harvested from 45 – 55 year old vines. The soil is primarily clay and slate with a relatively cool growing climate that promotes retention of the grape’s highly aromatic character. The wine sees no time in oak, so the purity of the varietal comes through loud and clear. At an average, pre-discount price of $9.99 per bottle, you cannot go wrong with this wine.
My tasting note:
Lively, red berry aromas with sweet floral and wet stone hints – very pretty. Medium-bodied with firm acidity – good balance. Soft, fruity palate with raspberry, strawberry and light citrus notes. Moderate length – clean and crisp – bright and refreshing – lovely. Drinking well – not for aging. Great value.