Imagine as a wine producer no wine reviewer picks up your wine. Well that’s not so bad if your wine is good. Favourable news travels by word of mouth. If you receive a negative review distributors want to keep that off the radar. If you get a 90 plus it is as if you have a pot of gold. Just look at the shelves of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario where 90 plus rules the roost in terms of signage like a mark of distinction. What about the thousands of wines the LCBO does not stock? What about the wineries not offering payola or paying to have their wines reviewed? There are too many wineries producing excellent wines that have no score. And isn’t it odd that the LCBO rarely fails to disclose wines that it carries with reviews in under the 90 category. Is the whole thing a marketing sham? As a last marker to my reviewing wines based on score, which I rarely do, just for amusement let’s look at a couple of 92’s from Spain.
The first is an Abad Dom Bueno from the Mencia grape which Matt Kramer of the Wine Spectator once said was like a Pinot Noir on steroids. It received its 92 rating from ex Wine Spectator writer James Suckling a reviewer I see as slightly over generous in his ratings.
As for wine critics was it Karl Mark or Lenin that said the state would wither when ruled by the proletariat. Wine reviewers will disappear when wine drinkers start controlling their wine tasting experiences by writing their own reviews of the wine they drink. This may require taking a wine course or two at your community college to start.
This Mencia has a dark purple colour. Maybe it is on steroids? On the nose it is precise and well measured or perhaps we might say tight. Blackberry and cassis predominate on the nose but there is also some blueberry and lavender. On the palate moderate tannins and the wine is full of juicy black cherry. It has a short finish. The wine is direct, straightforward and serious. While its pals are out eating tapas and staying out late it is home reading some Franz Kafka.
Although it is quaffable I think it is built for food primarily grilled meats and octopus. While not a big bruiser it would be reasonably categorized as full bodied and if it’s a Pinot Noir on steroids it is taking an awful lot of them!
It might smooth out at bit in the bottle but consume before the end of 2025.
(Abad Dom Beuno Mencia 2017 Laderas e Norte, DO Bierzo, Bodega del Abad, Leon, Spain, $16.95, LCBO # 291989, 750 mL, 14%, Robert K. Stephen A Little Birdie Told Me So Rating 90/100).
By Golly this is another Mencia! It is a Señorío de la Antigua rated a 92 by Wine Enthusiast. Black cherry in colour. On the nose black cherry, cassis and cherry liqueur. On the palate a deep streak of black cherry, plump very ripe strawberries and grape jelly. Very smooth and approachable. I can picture being in the main square of Bilboa sipping this watching the families out with their children enjoying the summer air with children playing under the watchful eye of their parents. Easy drinking and not complex. It has a friendly streak in it so it would suit a light snack of cured Iberian ham, olives and cheese in a totally chilled out familial atmosphere. Yes I miss Spain whether it be bustling Barcelona or Madrid or quieter Cadiz, Bilboa or Toledo. Maybe next year?
Drink now and serve with cheese, olives and cured meats. Drink by the end of the year.
(Señorío de la Antigua Mencia 2015, Vino e La Tierra Castilla Y León, Alvarez de Toledo Viñedos y Grupo Bodega, León, Spain, $14.95, Liquor Control Board of Ontario # 481549, 750 mL, 13.5%, Robert K. Stephen A Little Birdie Told Me So Rating 90/100).