Mencía tour de force – Palacios Petalos 2016

Winner of the latest Decanter mencía panel test (March 2019 issue). Not having tasted the other 88 contestants, my approval is hilariously unfounded but this time I can easily believe that it’s the best (having tasted quite a few panel test winners over the years this is the exception rather than the rule). It also made it to Wine Spectator’s Top 100 list in 2018.

Mencía was the first lesser known Spanish variety that I fell in love with more than ten years ago and the a couple of years later Petalos was the first „new wave” Spanish red available in Hungary that planted the first seeds of doubt in my mind about the relative value of Hungarian reds. The love since then has cooled off having tasted a bit too many sour and green mencías and Petalos went through a period when it was practically smothered in oak. With so many underwhelming vintages – the vicissitudes of the Atlantic climate or just heavy-handedness in the cellar – I wouldn’t dare to declare that the right formula has finally been found. (BTW Petalos ages for a few weeks in new French oak barriques followed by 6-10 months in used barrels, and regularly contains cca. 5% of white grapes besides mencía.)

A flawless, typical and quite complex nose showcasing violets, pencil shavings, herbs, tulips and plums. The palate is similarly strong in character, close-knit, dynamic and vibrant with spicy, plummy and saline aromas. Ripe and gentle tannins. Persistent finish with equal parts of fruity, floral and savoury notes. Clean as a whistle, this is a modern wine with excellent balance and real personality. One rarely encounters reds so well made. It would be a wise investment to lay down a few bottles in your cellar/wine fridge.

7-8 points and a good buy at 18 euros.