Friday, May 1, 2015

Domino de Tares

As mentioned in a recent post, I'm hoping to take advantage of the fact that I'm into my final hundred wines before I hit my goal of 2001 bottles. I figure this is as good an opportunity as any to open some bottles that I'd otherwise be inclined to leave in the cellar for a little more ageing - or for that appropriate, landmark moment where a nicer bottle is called for.

I can easily say that we have more bottles than we'll likely need for "landmark" moments. Accordingly, having Mr. D. visit us for a mid-week dinner has just qualified for a more premium bottle than we'd normally reach for. The fact that Mr. D. and Mexican Lou gave Boo and I this bottle some years back for our 10 year anniversary and "real" legal wedding makes it an even more legitimate as a pick.

1909.  2004 Domino de Tares Bembibre (Bierzo D.O. - Spain)

Bierzo isn't nearly as recognized as Rioja, Priorat or Ribera del Duero when it comes to Spain's premium wine producing regions. Located in the north-west part of Spain, Bierzo is seen as an up and coming region - one that is undergoing a modernization from moribund, local wine producers to fashionable wineries with sought after wines. Domino de Tares is one of the new wineries in the region - it was established in 2000 - and is seen as leading the charge of modernization.

Most of the important red wines of Bierzo are based on the Mencia grape. Not seen much outside of pockets of Spain and Portugal, Mencia is often identified as falling somewhere between Pinot Noir and Syrah in terms of character. Until recently, wines made from Mencia were often seen in rather thin, entry level wines that don't do much to impress. Winemaking in Bierzo traditionally saw the vines planted in a bush pruning method and the vineyards were worked entirely by hand. In the region's efforts to improve production standards, the wineries have looked to modernize in a way that allows them to employ tractors in the vineyards. That re-working of the vineyards generally leads to fewer vines per acre and the growers often try to compensate by growing more grapes per vine - thereby resulting in lower quality fruit.

Thus far, Dominio de Taras has had its growers maintain the traditional vineyard layout and field working methods and, accordingly, is seen as pushing the envelope in terms of raising the profile of Mencia. This Bembibre is a prime example of those efforts. Bigger than what I might have expected, the wine had more dark fruit than I usually associate with Spanish wine. If this is what premium varietal Mencia is meant to taste like, I'm only too happy to check it out on a more regular basis.

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