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Losada Vinos de Finca has hit a homerun with the deeply colored 2011 El Pájaro Rojo, a polished, sophisticated 100% Mencia wine from old vines that ingratiates the palate with a supremely suave texture and plenty of ripe, unctuous flavors. Redolent in bouquet with the scents of black fruits and exotic spices, one could almost be satisfied with just the savory notes that seduce the nose. But just wait! The best is yet to come: deep rich fruit, subtle spice tones, and the most supple mouth feel imaginable in a young red wine consummate the affair. From start to finish, winemaker Amancio Fernández did everything right with this offering, leaving little wonder as to why Wine and Spirits named the 2011 El Pájaro Rojo to this year’s Best, Best Buy, and 100 Best Values of the Year. Taste and see why! For optimal enjoyment, we suggest affording the 2011 El Pájaro Rojo at least 20 minutes of aeration before serving at no more than 65° F.
Frankly, the first time we tasted the 2011 El Pájaro Rojo we liked it so much we consumed it without a morsel. We just couldn’t wait for the food to arrive. Shame on us for our impatience, but we found the 2011 El Pájaro Rojo perfectly charming by itself, and we think you will, too. Nonetheless, succulent morsels no doubt enhance the drinking pleasure. One such tasty traditional pairing with Mencia is Pork and Green Chilies. Simmered with beans and herbs, this delectable dish offers a lip smacking accompaniment to the 2011 Pájaro Rojo. Spicy lamb kebobs and garlic and herb rubbed sirloin steaks that are grilled to perfection over a charcoal fire offer additional inducements to open another bottle of El Pájaro Rojo. Spain’s wonderful sheep’s milk cheeses such as Manchego and Mahon work magic in the company of this wine as well, but then again so will most artisan cheeses. Buen Provecho!
El Pájaro Rojo is the handicraft of Losada Vinos de Finca Winery, whose winemaker is the renowned Amancio Fernández. Amancio has fashioned many of Bierzo’s greatest Mencia wines. Losada Vinos de Finca was founded in 2004 in the heart of Bierzo by Amancio and his partners. The estate’s ultra-modern winery is surrounded by ancient Mencia vines that Losada Vinos de Finca cultivates organically, keeping yields to a minimum to assure the utmost elegance, balance and purity in the estate’s wines. All of Losada Vinos de Finca’s wines undergo malolactic fermentation in French oak and are barrel aged to perfection using natural yeasts. If you have never tasted an Amancio Fernández Mencia, you are in for a treat.
Mencia is a red Spanish grape varietal found primarily in the Bierzo, Ribeira Sacra and Valdeorras appellations of northern Spain. Although the Mencia varietal was once considered by enologists to be the direct ancestor and precursor of Cabernet Franc, recent DNA testing has shown that this is not the case. Mencia and Cabernet Franc share some common characteristics, but not the same ancestry. It is now widely believed that Mencia and Portugal’s Jaen de Dão (Jaen for short) grape variety are one and the same. However, not everyone agrees. What we do know about Mencia is that it has been around for quite some time. Bierzo’s original plantings of Mencia likely date to the earliest Roman settlers in Bierzo, who cultivated the varietal two thousand years ago in what remains one of Europe’s most isolated wine regions.
Bierzo is a remote area of Galicia, Spain’s cool, windswept province astride the Atlantic. Certainly, it is the very isolation of the Bierzo that has allowed Mencia to survive and even thrive. Moreover, the average age of the hillside vines in Bierzo is quite old, which lends itself to the production of high quality wines. Consequently, the wonderfully fruity, spicy, and wholly intriguing Mencia varietal has recently been discovered or rather re-discovered by modern legions of wine drinkers. They are no doubt intrigued by this unique viticultural entity we call Mencia, whose many attributes are accentuated by organic farming, low vineyard yields, and modern winemaking techniques practiced by Losada Vinos de Finca and other like minded wineries whose emphasis is on quality rather than quantity. Since the 1990’s Mencia has steadily grown in popularity and there are now more than 20,000 acres of Mencia being cultivated in Spain.
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