First Published in Costa News Group February 2012

BODEGAS TERRAS GAUDA SEES RED

ALL THAT GLITTERS IS NOT JUST GOLDEN HUED ALBARIÑO

Reading back I note that I was quite voluble with my praise of the white wines of  Bodegas Terras Gauda made in their homeland of DO Rías Baixas in Galicia, North West Spain. Well, having now tasted all their red wines, made in nearby DO Bierzo, I’m going to be equally complimentary – clearly this is a bodega to watch!

Mencía, indigenous to DO Bierzo, is a remarkable grape variety. It’s unique with a flavour and even, mouthfeel, like no other I’ve tasted. Its wines are deeply coloured and fruity and when made from older vines whose yield is low but whose grapes are the richer for it, the resulting nectar can be opulent and full flavoured, yet beguilingly elegant too. I always like to have a bottle or two in my cellar and because of its natural acidity it will also age well.

Pittacum 2007 is such a deeply coloured wine. It’s had 8 months in French and American oak after a month left in its fermentation vats where all the colour, flavour and tannin are concentrated. The 100% Mencía grapes were harvested by hand into small capacity crates and once at the winery the selection table was rigorously employed ensuring that only the best bunches were included.

Initially quite closed on the nose, the aromas soon start to develop – damson with notes of mint flavoured meaty gravy. On the palate bitter, dark chocolate blends sublimely with the damson and a curious, but attractive, aroma of old rope being untied. Its finish is mid to long, with a dark fruit liqueur chocolate end.

Its older brother, Pittacum Aurea 2007, is made from 100+ year old vines and again it’s a little closed at first. On the palate the first hit is juicy black plum and damson with acidity and mature tannin. During its first ten minutes it may seem a little lacking in depth to be able to develop further, but soon after, the wine comes alive.

Coffee and wooden barrel aromas mingle with damson fruit and, arriving late but making a significant and appreciated contribution, slatey mineral notes, with a certain earthiness too. It has a long, bold finish with dark fruits and cedar and mineral character. It has a well-earned 94 Peñin Points – making it one of the best Bierzo wines available! Decant before serving (if you don’t have a decanter [naughty, you should have!] pour it into the glass half an hour before you intend to drink it).

Perhaps my favourite, however, was the 92 pointer, Quinta Sardonia 2007, a VdlT Castilla y León, – just for the pure pleasure of drinking! It really is a super fruit-charged mouthful, and no wonder, considering the seven different varieties in the blend!

QS is made with Tinto Fino (aka Tempranillo), the lion’s share in fact making 52% of the blend, but aided and abetted by: Cabernet Sauvignon; Merlot; Syrah (only 5% but surely impacting significantly on the overall juciness of the finished product); Petit Verdot; Cabernet Franc (interesting this because, if Mencía shares any characteristics with another variety, it’s Cab. Franc); and finally Malbec! Now that’s a lot of wine in a single mouthful!

Its colour is a glorious dense and dark cherry, picota, red. On the nose there is an inviting, actually addicting intensity with cassis and mountain herbs to the fore. On the palate you’ll find ripe plums, a touch of black pepper with a hint of black olives too. There’s been oak ageing, 16 months in fact, but it’s been in subtle French oak and has been handled in an exemplary fashion with the vanilla input blending perfectly with  the wine, contributing to the final flavour in an integrated, graceful manner, rather like the double bass in an orchestra.

Indeed this symphonious, sexy wine is sensual in every way. Drinking perfectly now, it has the mature tannin, fruit content, acidity and alcohol (15%!) to age for another 3 – 5 years, but I doubt you’ll be able to keep your hands off it!

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