For over a decade, sommeliers and journalists have celebrated Spain’s Bierzo wine region, but mostly among themselves. The Mencía wine from this part of España Verde (“Green Spain”) was celebrated by Wine Spectator a few years back. For the uninitiated, here’s what Spectator’s Matt Kramer had to say about Mencía: “I have yet to meet a Pinot Noir lover who hasn’t fallen in love with Spain’s Mencía grape.” Kramer called Mencía from Bierzo one of “The World’s Greatest Underrated Wines” — ever since, these Pinot Noir-like reds have been steadily on the rise. We’ve secured a pallet of one of the world’s greatest underrated wines from Raúl Perez, whom Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate called “Spain’s most visionary vigneron.” Only 56 cases of the 2014 Raúl Pérez "GUS" are up for grabs. This is a bullseye, where quality meets value directly in the crosshairs.
Far away from the scorched plains of Madrid, Bierzo is part of the northwest region known locally known as España Verde or “Green Spain.” The climate and landscape look closer to Ireland than the land of the setting sun. Journalists and sommeliers have been celebrating Bierzo for some time, mostly amongst themselves. But one native-son winemaker’s fame has grown much faster than the region’s.
Raúl Pérez is hands-down one of Spain’s finest winemakers; many consider his among the best growers in the world. Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate captured the consensus, calling him “Spain’s most visionary vigneron.” Pérez makes almost 200 different wines every year, consistently pulling down scores in the upper 90s for his most sought-after wines. In Spain, Raúl produces wines in Rías Baixas, Ribeira Sacra, Monterrei, Tierra de León, Vinos de Madrid, and Cebreros, and abroad in Portugal, South Africa, Bordeaux, Argentina, and Chile.
Raúl has an uncanny knack for intuiting how to guide every vineyard that he farms to produce its finest grapes. He’s always striving for power and elegance — the yin and yang of wine. Raúl was born and raised at his family’s vineyard, where he developed his talent and passion. He left the winery in 2003 to start his own estate, Bodegas y Viñedos Raúl Pérez. His mission from the start was evident: to showcase the forgotten indigenous grapes of a region. All of Raúl’s wines are very limited in release, handcrafted wines from varieties such as Albariño, Godello, Bastardo, Prieto Picudo, and the indigenous red grape of Bierzo, Mencía.
For the uninitiated, here’s what Wine Spectator’s Matt Kramer had to say about Mencía: “I have yet to meet a Pinot Noir lover who hasn’t fallen in love with Spain’s Mencía grape.” Kramer called Mencía from Bierzo one of “The World’s Greatest Underrated Wines” — and we must say that we’ve always agreed.
Raúl’s Bierzos have been earning accolades since the inaugural 2003 vintage. The Wine Advocate says Raúl’s wines “must be tasted to be believed. Words simply cannot do them justice.” If any complaint can be lodged with Raúl’s wines, it’s that they’re made in miniscule quantities and are usually priced in the $100 range. That all changed in 2013 when Raúl launched his Gus Bierzo label.
Gus is a village wine from Raúl’s birthplace, the town of Valtuille, and is 100% Mencía.
A beautifully scented and deeply fruity grape with flavors of strawberry and blackberry, Mencía reminds us of Pinot Noir mixed with Cabernet Franc, but with a character all its own. The Mencía sourced for Gus are at least 20 years old and are grown on sandy, clay soils. All of the vineyards are dry-farmed and cultivated organically.
No longer can the cognoscenti keep Bierzo’s Mencía to themselves, not with Raúl Pérez crafting such spectacular wines as this 2014 Gus Bierzo.
- Wine Access Wine Team
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