Photo by Tara Stevens
*Gran Bierzo Reserva 2002, Bierzo, Tinto Mencia *
*A deep, dark, oaky red for lovers of the old school*
I’m not one for big, heavy, oaky reds to be honest. But I was interested to see what Bierzo was like 8 years ago so cracked into a bottle a friend gave me the other night to take a gander.
First impression in the glass was of something black and rusty, a little murky, not wildly appealing. Not much better in the mouth—all darkness, gloom and oak. It actually made me feel a bit miserable to drink it.
But drink it I did—far too late in the evening I hasten to add, and foolishly without food—I didn’t like it at all. The next night, but earlier, I gave it another swirl. It had mellowed with opening but still, in my mouth the taste was mainly of tobacco, like I’d been tucking into a big, fat Cubano. This faded to ash, bitter chocolate, then coffee, and ground black pepper. I got none of the promised cherries, and rather too much of the vanilla bean typical of American oak, but it’s been a long time since I’ve drunk anything so complex and while it wasn’t exactly to my gusto, I can imagine that for lovers of the old style it’s probably a rare treat.
I’d go nowhere near it unless I had some serious food on my plate, something deeply gamey and livery like woodcock, boar, or well hung venison. Then, I think you’d be in for quite a ride. Around €11 a bottle.