There are thousands of grape varieties on this planet and I am just counting those that fall under the vitis vinifera classification (without getting too geeky here, that roughly means wine grapevines that originated in the Mediterranean region).
Once I started writing about wine, I stumbled upon the Wine Century Club, which, according to the website,
…is for adventurous wine lovers worldwide. If you’ve tasted at least 100 different grape varieties, you’re qualified to become a member (click here for more information). If you haven’t tried 100 different grape varieties, but are interested in the concept, you’re welcome to all of our events. Please join us in promoting the awareness of uncommon wine grape varieties. We currently have 1,740 members worldwide.
Immediately, I started cataloging all the varieties that I had tried up to that point (it was around 75 if I remember correctly) and I began to try and taste as many more varieties as I could. And I kept track for a while. Once I passed 100 and got my certificate, my interest waned in keeping my list up to date. I am obsessive about a ton of stuff, the last that I needed was another, so I let it go.
Not too long ago, I was sent a series of samples from Vinos Guerra, a co-operative producer (all the growers have a stake in the company) in Bierzo, in the northwest corner of Spain. All six of the wines were made with Mencía, the local grape variety, which many have compared to both Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc.
I checked the Categories section here on the blog where I list all the varieties mentioned in a given article–Mencía was not listed, meaning that I had either not yet tasted that variety or at least had not yet written about it.
That sparked my obsessive nature and I had to count how many varieties I have opined about since I started this blog now over eight (?!) years ago.
Mencía made that number 231.
2017 Vinos Guerra Mencía Bierzo, Spain: Retail $10. Another 100% Mencìa. A few weeks ago, I don’t believe I had ever tried the variety, but this almost makes a solid half-dozen. Similar in profile with the others from this variety: dark in the glass, dark fruit aromas, black pepper. Perhaps not as rich as the others, thus rendering the wine a tad more tart. A bit short on the mid-palate as well, but this is an inexpensive mid-week wine that will pair well with a variety of food. Good to Very Good. 86-88 Points.
2017 Vinos Guerra Mencía Bierzo De Pura Cepa, Spain: Retail $11. 100% Mencia. Inky dark, almost black in the glass with loads of dark fruit (blackberry, cassis), a bit of wet rock, and a hint of anise. The palate is fruity and fun with good acidity. Sure, it lacks complexity, but how difficult a wine do you want for Taco Tuesday? This is a prototypical pasta pizza wine even though it is Spanish–maybe it’s a paella pounder? Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2014 Vinos Guerra Mencía Bierzo De Pura Cepa Crianza, Spain: Retail $18. 100% Mencia. Another fairly dark wine, characterized by dark red fruit, meaty notes, and a bit of mint. The palate is clean and angular. With subtle fruit, plenty of earth, and integrated tannins. Lovely. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.
2014 Vinos Guerra Mencía Bierzo Crianza, Spain: Retail $20. 100% Mencia. Bierzo is in Northwest Spain, just a few kilometers north of Portugal and just to the east of Galicia (which is particularly fun to say with a Spanish accent). Extremely dark in the glass, I have had very little experience with Mencia, the red grape of Bierzo. Flinty and austere on the nose, the palate has fruit which is largely reserved and plenty of minerality, tartness, and tannin. Very Good to Excellent. 88-90 Points.
2016 Vinos Guerra Mencía Bierzo De Pura Cepa Roble, Spain: Retail $22. 100% Mencìa, aged four months in oak. This is the fifth bottle that I have tried from this producer and this is as impressive as the others have been. Mencìa, the main grape variety grown in Bierzo, in the Northwest corner of Spain, is reminiscent of Cabernet Franc. Fruity, but reserved with dark berry aromas and black pepper, the wine is well-balanced, with soft, mostly integrated tannins. Nice. Very Good to Excellent. 88-90 Points.
2016 Vinos Guerra Mencía Bierzo Tradición, Spain: Retail $22. Another 100% Mencìa. This is the last of the six bottles that I received from Vinos Guerra in northwestern Spain, and it just might be the best. Fruity and rich nose of blackberry, spice, and vanilla. Quite tasty on the palate as well, with bright, tart, dark berry fruit with plenty of zing and depth on the mid-palate. The tannins are soft, and mostly integrated, but this could easily shine for another 2-3 years. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.