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Drink up, or Elsa

[hacienda elsa]Hacienda Elsa 2003 Bierzo (Northwest Spain) — Mencia’s dried flowers on full display, with an only semi-leaden thud of overweighted structure. But while there’s more resolution in store, I think the fruit will die before that’s finished. As European 2003s go, this is one of the good ones. (8/16)


Pazo de Arribi 2006 Bierzo Mencía (Northwest Spain) – I’m breaking with my normal nomenclature here because the winery name (in the fine print) is RNE 8179-LE…no, really…and I just can’t bear to see that in print. A contract bottling for Classical Wines, the importer? Could be. And I admit that, as a result, I’m trepidatious given the history of such things. But no fears are necessary, other than the usual worries about continuity of sourcing: this is a very tasty wine. Red, blue, and black fruit – not purple, though – well-structured and showing layers of decayed-flower aromatics. Tellicherry pepper dust, too. (8/10)


Castro Ventosa “El Castro de Valtuille” 2007 Bierzo Mencia “Joven” (Northwest Spain) – Aromatic, like freshly-crushed handfuls of dried flowers and dried berries, but with a weird imbalance between stridency and abruptness. It screeches forth at volume 11, and then…poof. Too much intensity up front, not enough to sustain later on. (5/10)

Albares necessities

[vineyard]Dominio de Tares 2003 Bierzo “Albares” (Northwest Spain) – There’s a struggle here, in that a wine that wants to be lighter and more aromatic tries to, but cannot, escape an inherent gravity that no doubt comes from the vintage. There are hints of enticing crushed-petal aromatics, but they’re sensed only through shadow and density, rather than in full burst and bloom. It’s a good wine, but the weight it carries can’t quite be supported by its skeleton or flesh. (2/09)


Adria “The Pilgrimage” 2007 Bierzo Godello (Northwest Spain) – There’s a layer of thickness here through which one must press, initially, and the effort leads to…well, not very much. Some wan stone fruit in an otherwise watery soup, in which the alcohol is left to fill in the gaps. Not very good. (10/08)


[bottle]Dominio de Tares 2003 Bierzo “Exaltos Cepas Viejas” (Northwest Spain) – Overwhelmed with coconut and vanilla, which completely obscure any other characteristics in the wine. Just no good. (6/08)


Castro Bergidum 2004 Bierzo (Northwest Spain) – Disjointed, with spiky acidity and lashes of tart fruit; there’s a lot that’s good here, but none of it is interesting in cohering. Thus, the overall impression is one of angry flailing, without purpose. (5/08)

Of two

Ambos 2006 Bierzo “De 2” (Northwest Spain) – Fantastically aromatic, well-baked and dry but with plenty of desert-edge floral life, dark fruit, and tons of earth. Yet it’s not a heavy wine, exactly; perhaps muscular but agile would be a better description. I wouldn’t age it too long, but I don’t think it’s in immediate danger of falling apart, either. (5/08)

Descendents ascendant

Descendientes de J. Palacios 2006 Bierzo “Pétalos” (Northwest Spain) – I’ve struggled with this wine, often finding it too leaden and tasting too much of primary barrel influences. But here, it’s singing with floral spice…still quite heavy, but bringing so much more to the party than thick black fruit that it doesn’t seem to matter. And, a food-pairing note: this wine is absolutely tremendous with smoked duck in a rich, heavy-on-the-chocolate molé sauce. (5/08)

Carlos Mencía

[vineyard]Dominio de Tares 2004 Bierzo Mencía “Baltos” (Northwest Spain) – Hard-edged and somewhat angry fruit, biggie-sized, full of dark scowls and moody mutterings. There’s some structure here, but it’s glimpsed in brief moments when the murk clears, rather than felt in support of the whole. Promising aromatics don’t quite survive the gloom, and the finish is gnarled. Difficult to assess. (4/08)

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