A Portela Mencia
A unique wine produced with the rare Mencía grape (pronounced Men-THEE-ah). Mencía only grows in northwest Spain. In this case, A Portela comes from Valdeorras, which is one of the most inland wine regions of Galicia. During Roman times Valdeorras was known for its gold, hence its name, the valley of Gold. The vines are tended in granite and slate soil. The high elevation of this precious small part of Galicia produces Mencía grapes that are different from other Galician wine regions, flavors tend to be more uplifted, more floral, brighter, and very pretty! A Portela is all unoaked to emphasize the purity and delicate flavors and aromas of this grape. It is produced from estate-owned grapes that are organically grown. A Portela signifies the doorstep to heaven. It is also the name of the high elevation hill of 5 hectares (12 acres) located in the town of Larouco (province of Ourense), where the Mencía vines that make this profound mineral wine come from. A Portela is a joint venture between the Sharon family and CVA.
WHAT MAKES THIS WINE UNIQUE? This wine is a superb value made from estate owned organically grown grapes. All the grapes come from the specific high elevation site of A Portela. A Portela is a joint venture between the Sharon family and CVA. The Sharon family possesses the largest holdings of vineyard land in the Valdeorras appellation. A Portela is made with the best 20% of the vineyard land of the Sharon family. The mineral character of A Portela gives the wine a special identity.
RATING HISTORY: 2014 91JS; 2013 92W&S; 2012 90IWC; 2011 93RP; 2010 90RP
GRAPE: 100% Mencia. Vines planted from 1976 - 1990. Tended in clay, granite and slate soil from 500 - 700 m (1,640 - 2,625 ft) elevation. This is a vegan wine.
PAIRING SUGGESTIONS: Herb-roasted chicken, pork loin or even salmon would be divine. And some sautéed mushrooms...
VINIFICATION AND AGEING: After harvest, the skins mix with the unfermented juice for five days at 45F. This pre-fermentation “cold soak” enhances the wines aromas, color and flavor. Once fermentation has taken place, the skins spend another 10 days in tanks to extract all beneficial colors and tannins. The wine is aged 7 months in stainless steel to emphasize the pure, young flavor of the Mencía grape.
PRODUCTION: 5,000 cases
LOCATION, SOIL, CLIMATE: The vineyards are located in the autonomous region of Galicia, in far northwestern Celtic Spain, within the Valdeorras DO (Zone 1) in Valdeorras district and within Ourense province. The vineyards are in the mountain town of Larouco, at 500 meters (1,640 ft) elevation. The soil is composed of slate and granite topsoil with a thin clay subsoil. This soil profile is poor in organic matter and the vines yield 2.5 kg (about 6 pounds) of grapes per vine, compared to the average of 7.5 kg (around 17 pounds) per vine in Valdeorras. The surface of the granite and slate soil is warmed by sunlight during the day and provides heat to the roots, which encourages the grapes to continue ripening during the cool nights. Lower yields result in more concentrated grapes providing more intense aromas and flavors in the wines. The area's climate has an average temperature from April-October of 64.4F, among the lowest average temperatures in Spain, with 32 inches of yearly rainfall. Being one of the lowest levels of precipitation in the region helps prevent overnight frost. The cool temperatures of this Atlantic-influenced climate (Zone 1) provide a longer ripening period, which results in bright wines with great aromatic expression.
TASTING NOTES: A pure Mencia that exhibits aromas reminiscent of dried flowers and sliced strawberries... The palate is loaded with upfront fruit, plenty of fine tannins, a good backbone of acidity and a clean finish.
All photos: Friederike Paetzold