Mencía / Jaen wine grape

Mencía / Jaen
The grape of Bierzo, in Spain’s Castilla y León region.  It’s also found in nearby Valdeorras and Ribeira Sacra, although often as a blend. 
 
Jaen has long been grown in Portugal, but recent DNA analysis has shown it is the same variety as Mencia. As Jaen, it’s important in various Portuguese blends, especially Dão.
 
It has something of a split personality.  Traditionally, most wine produced from Mencía (and Jaen) was pale, fragrant, low-acid light red for early drinking.  This was largely the result of overcropping, especially from post-Phylloxera vineyards planted on fertile plains.  Mencía grown in the hills on infertile soils with restricted yields is a completely different beast; it’s still fragrant but is dark and tannic with notable fresh acidity.
 
It has been likened to Cabernet Franc and was once thought to be a variant of it, due to the similarity in aromas.  It can produce supple, fresh, unoaked reds for drinking young, like many Loire Cab Francs, but is also capable of producing concentrated, tannic wines for keeping, like many a St. Emilion.
 
It has floral, herbal and mineral aromas, with earthy but fresh red fruits on the palate.

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