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Almanova Ribeira Sacra Mencia 2020

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Country/State Spain

Region Ribeira Sacra



Type Mencia

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We’ve featured this producer’s white wine before, and now it is time for his delightful red. For those unfamiliar with Ribeira Sacra and / or Roberto Flammini (which I am guessing covers everyone in the continental U.S.), I think there are two important waypoints to approaching this wine.

I’d like you to think of this wine as Ribeira Sacra Red Wine, the place, instead of Mencia, the grape. Mencia is far more well known than Ribeira Sacra or Roberto Flammini, but I think the latter two are more important, if more complicated.

The second waypoint to approaching this wine is through its heroic (spinetinglingly so) vineyards. I’ll always remember how Roberto Flammini welcomed me to his tiny winery: “I promise, I am not trying to kill you.” What a gentleman!

We had just climbed the tiniest of dirt roads high up in Ribeira Sacra, truly a scary climb for this not-so-rugged indoorsmen. Roberto was offering a tour of the vineyards – a 45-degree slope down 1,000 meters to the river. A tremendous plunge! Pictures can’t do it justice, but maybe this illustration will. The vineyard has to be terraced to an extreme degree: After each row of vines, a terrace rises 8 feet tall, before the next row. Imagine if your front yard had a 2-foot-wide strip of grass, then an 8-foot wall, then another strip, and so on, all the way up an entire mountainside. Roberto calls this heroic farming and, having seen it myself, I agree.

Of course, the best way to learn about this wine is to just to keep pounding it with an amazing platter of Iberico ham, local raw cheeses, and fresh vegetables picked straight from the garden. Best if experienced at an altitude of 900 meters, overlooking a dense forest, on a steep hillside in Green Spain, with the wind in your hair. And if all that is not quite attainable at the moment, don’t worry, for this wine will take you there:

It's vividly red-fruited, in the lighter spectrum of the range – pomegranate, strawberry and a touch of fennel spice. Mencia can come in many forms (which is why I prefer to use Ribiera Sacra for this wine), and this is on the elegant, luminous, featherweight side of the spectrum. Which is not to say that its “lightness” reflects any lack of flavor. Like great Pinot Noir, it is both light bodied and flavor-full, rich in depth, while dancing and lithe in character. Its charms continue on the palate with a polished, gentle midpalate and a velvety, long finish.

Now a note about the price – I was introduced to some of the top Ribeira Sacra producers by a wise and intrepid client years ago. As things go in the wine industry, the world found out about these magical wines. Now the top one or two producers are snapped up on allocation and simply nothing ever remains –at prices verging on $100 a bottle.

I believe this producer belongs in that top echelon of the region. But you’ll notice that it’s not $100 a bottle. That’s because I was there, and as a merchant I am buying this wine as “direct” as the law will allow. Cutting out two middlemen is the entire reason this wine is on offer at this price. Try it, fall in love with it (as I have), and relish in knowing you are drinking one of the best – for far, far less.