Castro Ventosa - Rabbit Label Mencia Joven 2021
Before he was awarded multiple Winemaker of the Year awards, Raul Perez was a young winemaker working for his family’s winery, Castro Ventosa. Founded in 1752, the winery is the largest owner of vineyards in Bierzo, a small region tucked in the mountains of northwestern Spain. Like many young winemakers, Raul wanted to innovate, update and explore “purer” expressions of the grapes and vineyards. But after 10 years tilting at the windmills of family tradition, Raul embarked on his own.
His meteoric rise over the past 20 years to the uppermost echelon of winemakers has seen Raul travel far and wide, producing wines from all over Spain. Yet his heart, and his home, have always been in the village of Valtuille de Abajo. While not heavily publicized, at some point in the last decade, Raul took over his family’s winery and implemented the practices and techniques that have made him a superstar. (Smart move, Family Perez!) Under Raul’s tutelage, his nephew, César Márquez, has taken over most of the winemaking duties. But if there is any doubt as to who is in charge, just look for Raul’s name on the front label!
What's Mencia, then? Think great red Burgundy, mixed with top-notch Oregon Pinot, with a dash of Cabernet Franc... hmm... actually, as I drink another bottle... there is starting to be a striking resemblance to old-school Rhone reds as well... this wine has it all - fruit, earth, subtlety and nuance, yet expressive and accessible...
Perhaps that is the greatest triumph of Raul – his ability to craft wines that appeal to every wine lover. You can simply pop the cork and enjoy the wine for its vibrant fruit and textural suppleness. Or you can geek out and seek to discover every nuance of fruit – raspberry, brambleberry, boysenberry, black cherry, etc - along with the subtle earth notes of black tea, fresh herbs, coffee, etc. I’ve enjoyed Mencia with all kinds of foods - roast chicken, tuna, salmon, lamb, burgers - the options are endless. It’s just such a fabulously balanced and food friendly wine!
Wine Advocate: 92 Points
"The just-bottled 2021 El Castro de Valtuille Mencía Joven feels a bit reductive but with lots of freshness and balance, possibly the finest vintage of this wine. Since 2020, they have been doing less pumping over (this is the only wine worked with pumps and the only one with temperature control), and this is made all from destemmed grapes fermented in stainless steel. This is one of the wines that transcends its price category, and it's serious and balanced. It has very fine, elegant tannins. They harvested early, and the wine is complete, with great finesse and elegance, great balance and 13.3% alcohol. 2021 was a very rainy harvest, very long and not easy. Fine and elegant, much more serious than the 2020. 100,000 bottles produced."
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