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Mengoba

Never Been Better: Delicious, Artisanal High-County Wines from the Hills of Bierzo
Mengoba
We left our recent tasting in Bierzo buzzing with excitement. You need a great deal of passion, energy and grit to succeed in these remote hills; fortunately, these are qualities Gregory Pérez has in spades. You might also have to be a little bit crazy—something Pérez, too, knows a bit about. Looking back through the years, his wines have always been engaging and delicious. Yet where his earlier releases could be described, in the best sense, as a touch wild (and we loved them for it), over the years, he has figured out how to tame the mountain. Today his wines are sleeker and more precise while losing none of their distinctive highland personality and rocky, mineral charm.

Pérez’s work in his vineyards has always been exhaustive. His vines are old and grow above 500-600 metres, making them among the highest in Bierzo. The rugged, undulating vineyards are managed by hand, often using an ox-drawn plough. Fortunately, these days Pérez can count on the help of two young vignerons, Andrés and Jonathan—who, incidentally, bears a resemblance to a young Bob Dylan—which allows him to spend more time fine-tuning the winemaking at his newish, spacious winery in San Juan de Carracedelo.

Pérez has been using his time well. The white wines are the most obvious beneficiary; these great-value Godello-based releases have more focus, fine lines and mineral energy than ever before. On the red side, Pérez’s Mencía wines are more refined and showcase mouth-watering chalky structures and floral prettiness to complement their succulent, herb- and soil-tinged fruit. Finally, there is Pérez’s strikingly pretty, floral and berry-scented Estaladiña, superbly crafted from a variety that may or may not be related to France’s Trousseau. It’s a tug-at-your-heartstrings red from a beacon of Bierzo’s viticultural renaissance.

The Wines

Mengoba Bierzo Brezo Blanco 2022

Mengoba Bierzo Brezo Blanco 2022

One of the best-value wines in our portfolio, Mengoba’s entry white is a blend of 85% Godello and 15% Doña Blanca, sourced from a variety of Bierzo’s highland vineyards. The Godello is drawn mostly from a stony Carracedo site, as well as from some sandy loam and clay/limestone plots in Valtuille and Villafranca del Bierzo. The Doña Blanca hails from similar sites, and includes some older, gobelet material from the slate soils of Espanillo. The age of the vines sits between 20 and 80 years, and all the fruit is harvested by hand, which is remarkable when you consider the price. The wine fermented with wild yeasts and was raised on its fine lees in tank and large cask for six months.

Gregory Pérez’s white wines have never tasted as pure and energetic as they do today. The new release is a superbly tangy wine offering an array of pulpy citrus, wet stone and spearmint flavour and finishing with a juicy, mineral quality. It’s a cracking bargain from some of Spain’s most spectacular vineyards.

"The young 2022 Brezo Godello has some 10% Doña Blanca, all sourced from different vineyards in different villages and soils. It has moderate alcohol for a warm year (12.5%) and very good parameters of freshness and acidity. It fermented in stainless steel with indigenous yeasts and was kept with the lees that were not stirred until bottling. It's pale and fruit-driven with notes of apples, pears, apricots and white flowers. It has a light palate with clean flavors and a balanced mouthfeel. 42,000 bottles produced. It was bottled in June 2023."
92 points, Luis Gutiérrez, The Wine Advocate
Mengoba Bierzo Brezo Blanco 2022
Mengoba Bierzo Brezo Blanco 2022 (1500ml)

Mengoba Bierzo Brezo Blanco 2022 (1500ml)

One of the best-value wines in our portfolio, Mengoba’s entry white is a blend of 85% Godello and 15% Doña Blanca, sourced from a variety of Bierzo’s highland vineyards. The Godello is drawn mostly from a stony Carracedo site, as well as from some sandy loam and clay/limestone plots in Valtuille and Villafranca del Bierzo. The Doña Blanca hails from similar sites, and includes some older, gobelet material from the slate soils of Espanillo. The age of the vines sits between 20 and 80 years, and all the fruit is harvested by hand, which is remarkable when you consider the price. The wine fermented with wild yeasts and was raised on its fine lees in tank and large cask for six months. 

Gregory Pérez’s white wines have never tasted as pure and energetic as they do today. The new release is a superbly tangy wine offering an array of pulpy citrus, wet stone and spearmint flavour and finishing with a juicy, mineral quality. It’s a cracking bargain from some of Spain’s most spectacular vineyards.

Mengoba Bierzo Brezo Blanco 2022 (1500ml)
Mengoba Bierzo Brezo Mencía 2021

Mengoba Bierzo Brezo Mencía 2021

Pérez’s entry-level Mencía comes from multiple remote parcels of 30- to 60-year-old vines dotted around the slate-rich hillsides of Valtuille and Villafranca del Bierzo. The blend also takes in a splash of Godello and Garnacha Tintorera (Alicante Bouschet)—a legacy of the traditional make-up of Bierzo’s vineyards. Pérez destemmed 90% of his fruit in the pursuit of something pure, refreshing and juicy, and the wine fermented wild in stainless-steel tanks. Bottled early to capture all that joyous, mouth-watering Mencía character, this is an excellent port of call if you fancy a detour from Cru Beaujolais or Loire Cabernet Franc.

Pérez's 2021 release has got everything we look for in a wine from the easy-drinking leagues: authenticity, refreshment and fun, with a large side order of place. Putting the value to one side, the great achievement here is that the striking fleshiness of fruit is finely offset by the bright, fresh structure—a balance reflective of the altitude and the diurnal contrast (warm days followed by cold nights). Filled to the brim with sleek and vibrant fruit, it’s a deliciously animated Mencía. Full of succulent verve, gravelly tannins lend length and gravitas. A real charmer.

Pérez's 2021 release has got everything we look for in a wine from the easy drinking leagues: authenticity, refreshment and fun, with a large side order of place. Putting the value to one side, the great achievement here is that the striking fleshiness of fruit is finely offset by the bright, fresh structure—a balance reflective of the altitude and the diurnal contrast (warm days followed by cold nights). Filled to the brim with sleek and vibrant fruit, it’s a deliciously animated Mencia, full of lacy verve with some gravelly tannins also lending length and gravitas. A real charmer.

Mengoba Bierzo Brezo Mencía 2021
Mengoba Godello Viejo Sobre Lías 2021

Mengoba Godello Viejo Sobre Lías 2021

Pérez’s core white wine is exclusively Godello drawn from a selection of 30- to 40-year-old plots in Cacabelos, Valtuille and Villafranca del Bierzo. The parcels cover a range of soil profiles, including river stones, sandy loam and slate soils, all lying at 550 metres. This wine fermented with wild yeast in wooden foudre and was raised for 10 months on fine lees in two 4,000-litre oval wooden vats.

Here is another example of how far Pérez’s white wines have progressed in terms of precision and clarity in recent years. The aging is longer and less reductive than for its younger sibling, which only seems to enhance the sense of smoky minerality—a reflection of the slate and calcareous soil in which the vines grow. It is a complex and stimulating mountain white that is, by turns, grapefruity, fleshy, powdery and savoury. The finish throws up deep, earthy mineral notes and perfumed, mouth-watering length. Again, it packs in much bang for your buck.

Mengoba Godello Viejo Sobre Lías 2021
Mengoba Estaladiña 2021

Mengoba Estaladiña 2021

This obscure variety only just managed to stave off extinction in Bierzo. Traditional thinking suggested that Estaladiña is none other than Jura's Trousseau, more commonly known in northern Iberia as Bastardo or Merenzao. Today, some growers are not so sure; the vines and their grapes look different enough to warrant a challenge to the conventional viewpoint. In modern history, this pale-skinned grape has become rare enough to drop off the list of permitted D.O. varieties in Bierzo—something hard to rationalise as you taste this beautiful, floral, red berry--scented highland red.

Pérez’s wine is drawn from one of Bierzo’s few remaining Estaladiña vineyards in the Alto Bierzo, planted 35 years ago in the poor clay, rocky soils of Cacabelos at 540 metres above sea level. The winemaking has evolved in lockstep with Pérez’s understanding of this rare variety. The fruit is now picked earlier, while maceration is more infusion than extraction. Grapes are foot-trodden and ferment as whole bunches in two 400-litre terracotta jars. The wines are raised in the same vessels for 10 months with no added sulphur.

The result is a beautiful, floral and delicately spicy expression of the Bierzo highlands and something completely unique. Pérez has nailed this one. Flavours of crushed red berries and wildflowers float across a lacy palate that strikes excellent tension between crisp acidity and light, tender tannins. It finishes with tangy-berry deliciousness and impressive persistence. Elegance, perfume and charm: this has it all. Burgundy and Jura lovers will not be disappointed! 

Mengoba Estaladiña 2021
Mengoba Bierzo Brezo Mencía 2021 (1500ml)

Mengoba Bierzo Brezo Mencía 2021 (1500ml)

Pérez’s entry-level Mencía comes from multiple remote parcels of 30- to 60-year-old vines dotted around the slate-rich hillsides of Valtuille and Villafranca del Bierzo. The blend also takes in a splash of Godello and Garnacha Tintorera (Alicante Bouschet)—a legacy of the traditional make-up of Bierzo’s vineyards. Pérez destemmed 90% of his fruit in the pursuit of something pure, refreshing and juicy, and the wine fermented wild in stainless-steel tanks. Bottled early to capture all that joyous, mouth-watering Mencía character, this is an excellent port of call if you fancy a detour from Cru Beaujolais or Loire Cabernet Franc.

Pérez's 2021 release has got everything we look for in a wine from the easy-drinking leagues: authenticity, refreshment and fun, with a large side order of place. Putting the value to one side, the great achievement here is that the striking fleshiness of fruit is finely offset by the bright, fresh structure—a balance reflective of the altitude and the diurnal contrast (warm days followed by cold nights). Filled to the brim with sleek and vibrant fruit, it’s a deliciously animated Mencía. Full of succulent verve, gravelly tannins lend length and gravitas. A real charmer.

Mengoba Bierzo Brezo Mencía 2021 (1500ml)

“Most wine drinkers, I suspect, have never heard of Bierzo, but word is getting around. And if you get the opportunity to taste a good bottle, with its haunting, exotic wildflower, licorice and fruit flavors, you can't help but remember it.” Eric Asimov, The New York Times



“Gregory Pérez is one f@#$ing talented winemaker...” Alice Feiring, The Feiring Line

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