Godelia Mencia 2012, Spain
Cost: $18-20
S panish wine could be the new Italian wine.
Wines from Italy saw a resurgence of interest in the United States a few years ago as American wine drinkers tried to unravel the mysteries of the hundreds of grape varieties found in Italy. That interest continues today, but wines from Spain are starting to attract a great deal of attention.
It’s not that wine making is something new in Spain. They have been making decent wine for hundreds of years. But when the phylloxera infestation of the mid-19th Century wiped out much of the European wine industry, Spain was slow to recover.
When the Spanish replanted vines on aphid-resistant root stock, many of the red wines were light and pale, good for early consumption. Only recently have winemakers begun producing more concentrated and complex wines, often made from old vines growing on hillsides. It doesn’t hurt that many of these wines arrive here at bargain prices.
One of these wines is the Godelia Mencia (men-thee-yah). It is a very nice wine at a friendly price point made from 100 percent mencia. It is a beautiful deep red in the glass with floral and mineral notes in the aroma.
It is a complex, elegant wine with ripe fruit flavors of blackberry, plum and cola, with more mineral and black pepper notes. It has a rich, medium-length finish that will leave a smile on your face. The tannins are muted and balanced. A pleasant acidity keeps it all in balance.
The grapes are hand picked, destemmed and cold soaked at 32 degrees. Fermentation starts slowly as the must warms up in the tank and temperatures remain cool, about 69-71 degrees throughout fermentation. The wine then rests on the skins for another six days with short pump overs to gently extract color and flavor.
The wine then goes into 105- and 132-gallon oak casks (90 percent French, 10 percent American, one third new oak), where it spends a year.
The wine is made from the mencia grape, which I suspect we will see a lot more of in the years ahead. I have loved tempranillo and albariño grapes found in many Spanish reds and whites, but mencia should attract even more attention.
It is grown primarily in northwest Spain, the area just north of Portugal. The same grape is grown in Portugal, where it is known as Jaen. It ages well and usually opens with beautiful aromas in the glass. If you like pinot noir and other aromatic reds such as gamay, you probably will like mencia.
With the Goedlia the grapes are 50-90 years old, from three different plots. The grapes are blended together, but the proportions from each plot change from year to year, so each vintage can be slightly different.
I decanted the wine about 15 minutes before starting to drink it, but I should have let it sit longer. It kept getting better in the glass for another 30 minutes or so.
Winery: Bodegas Godelia is just outside the village of Cacabelos, in the heart of the Bierzo D.O. Though the region has been producing wine since Roman times, Godelia is a relatively new project.
The greatest expansion of the wine industry in the area came with the growth of monasteries during the Middle Ages. It was recognized as an official Spanish D.O. in 1989. That was the same year a previous owner of Godelia planted many of the vineyards. He sold wine under a different label.
In 2009 Vicente Garcia Vasquez bought the winery and decided he had to take it in a different direction. He created the name Godelia, which is a contraction of Godello (the predominant white grape in the region) and Lias (lees).
Bodegas Godelia’s vineyards cover nearly 100 acres across three properties, each offering a slightly different elevation and soil profile, creating something of a diverse selection for the winemaker to work with in assembling the final blends. The vines are planted on the best hillside vineyards at altitudes of 1,600 to 2,000 feet.
The soil is primarily decomposed quartzite and slate, so it drains well.
When Vasquez bought the property, he entrusted the nearly 30-year-old vines and some 90-year-old bush vines in the mountains to Josep Serra Guyillen, a Catalan winemaker brought in from outside specifically to avoid local complacency and to revise inherited bad viticultural habits. Hie believes in freshness and elegance. His right hand in winemaking is Silvia Marrao.
The winery make six wines: two whites made primarily from godello grapes, three reds from mencia and a blush wine.
Michael enjoyed the Godelia with grilled pork chops.
Goes with: We had this gorgeous wine with grilled pork chops, long-grain and wild rice, peas and a tossed salad. The wine was perfect with the meal.
The rich fruitiness of the wine played off the pork, which I cooked with a nice sprinkling of herbs. I also added some barbecue sauce on the plate to give the pork an even spicier flavor.
It was an easy to fix and delicious meal.
The wine also would pair well with charcuterie, pepper steak, pastrami sandwiches, corned beef, pizza, barbecue, wild game, blackened chicken, beef brisket, dark meat turkey, duck, and chicken fajitas. Some nice cheese to go with this wine would be monterey jack, white cheddar, manchego and queso iberico.
Michael’s girlfriend Micheala joined us for dinner even though she didn’t have any wine.

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