On the pour: Pétalos
Author: Sophie Thorpe
What is it? Álvaro Palacios is the trailblazing Spanish winemaker that put Priorat on the fine wine map. But he didn’t stop there: next he set his sights on Bierzo. Buying up plots of old vines, he – along with his nephew, Ricardo – started producing wines that redefined the region. Pétalos is one of the remarkable wines they make. It’s mainly Mencía (90%), blended with 3% Alicante Bouschet, 1% Gran Negro, Pan y Carne and Negreda, with the remaining 6% made up by white grapes: Valenciana, Jerez and Godello. The resulting wine is astounding.
Why’s it different? This little-known area of north-western Spain is home to the Mencía grape – a spicy, perfumed and enchanting variety that could be described as a little like a cross between Syrah and Pinot Noir. Álvaro and Ricardo farm small plots of old bush vines on back-breakingly steep slopes. For the Pétalos cuvée, fruit is sourced from five different villages. The low-yielding old vines give it remarkable intensity – with layer upon layer of black and red fruit; while the vineyards’ high altitude lends it great freshness – with delicate aromas of wild herbs, violets and graphite.
What should I eat with it? We can’t think of anything much more perfect (especially given this weekend’s weather forecast) than our Head Chef’s barbecued Moroccan lamb. Otherwise, pretty much anything in the picnic hamper or that happens to cross the coals will suffice.
How much? £1 for a taste, £18.50 for a bottle
But… we have just 100 bottles available at £12: snap one of them up here.
This grape can be made in anything from a slightly more swarthy and savoury style, through to more fragrant and “Pinot-esque” expressions. Here are two more to try.
2014 Lalama, Dominio do Bibei, Ribera Sacra – a brighter and crunchier style of Mencía from slightly west of Bierzo. Similarly to Pétalos, Mencía is blended with a smattering of other local varieties – Brancellao, Mouratón, Sousón and Garnacha Tintorera.
2016 Gaba do Xil Mencía, Telmo Rodríguez, Valdeorras – from another of Spain’s superstar winemakers, Telmo Rodríguez, this pure Mencía – made only in stainless steel for a pure varietal expression – is immensely elegant.