Friday, December 10, 2010

*** $ Flavium Mencia Crianza, 2005, Bierzo, Spain - Wine Review and Rating (BEST VALUE)

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By way of background: Ok, here's how this all works regarding the name of the this wine. "Flavium" is the brand. "Mencia" is the grape, originated and primarily known in Spain. "Bierzo" is the area of northwest Spain, an area where the mencia grape remains in regular production. "Crianza" refers to the way the wine is aged, and means it has spent one year in oak barrels. Let's see what putting these all together means in the glass. In this case, the wine is being tasted four years from its vintage date, and it comes in at a fairly low 12.5% alcohol.

Original Review, October, 2009:

In the glass: Flavium Mencia shows as medium-deep purple magenta, almost brilliant really, with ruby and purple glint at the edges.

On the nose: As the wine is poured, you immediately notice the potent aromas. They are of quite sweet, fresh plums - like you just pulled one off the tree, split it and tucked your nose inside. A little bit of oak darkens the fruit aspects.

On the palate: Oh, that's a bit of a surprise! The first note comes as black pepper at the very back of your mouth, almost into your throat. Then, some light acids pull the slightly sweet berry flavors up and into your cheeks. Slowly, a more mineral/tannic glide moves the fruit forward across your tongue.

And the finish: After the flavor acrobatics subside, the tannins leave the bright fruits to linger, actually for quite a long time. Reminders of the sip are the tannins and acids now burrowed into your upper gums. Intriguing. Finally ready for the next sip.

In summary: Not deep, but an energizing, gymnastic experience overall. PERHAPS it could even use some more settling down with age; though I expect the energy levels will subside. Its light alcohol level and bright tones make it better as a potential food wine than entirely on its own.

...In fact, I just tried it with a bite of Casa del Campo Manchego Gran Reserva cheese from Spain - which incidentally is ALSO aged 12 months - and found that the cheese nicely toned and highlighted the Flavium Crianza. Two stars with a really big plus for its intriguing peppery acrobatics.  Good value at its price.

In comparison, Robert Parker of Wine Advocate awarded 90 points and called this a "great discovery". He highlighted the "creamy body and smoky structure,... ripe fruit and zesty flavors... and sour cherry aromas."

Updated Review, one year later, now five years from vintage date, December, 2010: Deep and dark in the glass, brooding, with purple edges and hints of brick.  Strong aroma of deep, musty plums with old world funk.  Peppery mid-palate fruit is better balanced with the acids now, finishes with a touch of sugar cane, completely clean.  With a short decant:  The improved balance now makes for a very becoming middle-weight red wine: fruit, depth, complexity.  Hits three stars and becomes a best value.  With a longer decant, additional day kept cool in a partially filled bottle without vacuum: Plum nose has lost the funk and much of the must.  Retains good balance in the mid-palate, with hints of pepper too. A touch more acidic.  And even longer decant, two more days without vacuum:  Holding up well, the pepper comes even more into focus.

Find Flavium Crianza at WineZap.

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