In The Glass: Veronica Ortega – Cobrana 2016
For some time, Mencía, a grape native to the Bierzo region, was the “Pinot Noir of the moment” for Spain. The comparison seems to always be made with any grape, Spanish or not, that’s red, lighter-colored, and holding less than 14% alcohol. What’s interesting is that it doesn’t oft stick and it feels like it’s those who have just discovered DO Bierzo and its Mencía wines that are drawn to declare this conclusion these days, especially as boozier Mencías do exist.
Mencía has thankfully continued on and is carving out more and more of a name for itself. Sure, that name is largely still in the minds of wine professionals and, as shown by a tasting I led in London last week, few of the wine drinking public know of its existence despite a recent seven page panel tasting in Decanter. This lack of needed to be Pinot-y and conforming to some immediate trend that consumers have latched on to has allowed those dedicated to the grape the chance to work it over, year after year, honing more and more of a unique profile.
Veronica Ortega is one such devotee of this grape and the region. Originally from Andalucía, she’s worked in Burgundy, Priorat, New Zealand, and probably somewhere else noteworthy that I’m not aware of. This has left her the option due to all this experience of starting up her own cellar basically, wherever she felt like. But, it was doing a stint with renown Bierzo winemaker, Raúl Pérez that brought her to Bierzo and ultimately made her stick down roots, starting up her own VOC line of wines.
I’ve been tasting her wines for the last half a decade or so and every vintage just seems to improve upon itself. Her 2016s (like those of others) are simply stellar. This Cobrana is from a vineyard that’s 90 years old and mostly Mencía. Veronica also puts the Garnacha Tintorera as well as Doña Blanca and Palomino white grapes from the same vineyard into the final wine to achieve a “field blend”. The result works a charm and has this signature citric tang that I’ve found in many of the top-rate Mencía wines of the region which you’d never ever mistake of Pinot Noir. A top bottle to pick up if you want to see what’s possible with this quite lovely grape.
Veronica Ortega - Cobrana 2016
Light garnet in the glass, raspberry and red forest fruit notes, bit of fresh-crushed mint, lemon peel tang with a light, crisp earthy note, black pepper. Red-fruit driven on the palate, lovely, subdued quality to the wine with an understated balance, crispness and well-articulated finish, medium plus acidity.
75% Mencía, Doña Blanca, Alicante Bouschet, Palomino · 13% · 21EUR