Bierzo may be relatively young and easy to shun in favour of better known regions like Rioja and Toro, but two Platinum medals at the Decanter World Wine Awards in consecutive years means it's time to take a proper look...
The denomination of Bierzo, on the edge of Galicia, is not even 30 years old, although it can boast a pre-Roman winemaking heritage.
Driven by a love and respect for local soils and traditional grape varieties, a younger generation has injected new life into this remote region in Spain’s northwest.
Mencía is king in Bierzo. In the other Galician DOs, the grape is often blended with local varieties, but here it’s possible to see the true character of the grape as it is rarely blended.
Burgundian? Yes, possibly. The adjective certainly reflects the approach to the vineyard and winemaking of many. For whites, Godello is the go-to grape. Lashings of minerality, salinity and nuttines again echo Burgundy, but with a distinct character all of its own.
Bierzo was transformed by its people, who rescued the vines and restored the quality following devastation by phylloxera and the domination of co-operatives in the 1960s.
It has become a magnet for bright stars of Spain’s new generation, and the best of Bierzo fully deserves international recognition. They should be ranked alongside Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Priorat with an elegance that’s in tune with modern tastes.
Copy edited for Decanter.com by James Button.