Like many of you, I’m in a book club that meets once a month. And, I presume, like many of your book clubs, catching up with one another and sharing a few bottles of wine takes up the majority of every "meeting." It probably won’t surprise you to know that my book club is made up of women that work in the wine industry, so rather than the one or two customary bottles on the table, there’s more like ten or twelve. So to stand out from the bounty of bottles on the table, a wine has to be pretty outstanding - especially towards the end of the evening, which is coincidentally when this near perfect Mencia stopped me mid-sentence a few months back.
My good friend Claire (the same Claire that served as the harvest intern on that delicious Texier Roussanne in your November collection) showed up a little late to this particular book club. A few hours into the evening, she quietly set down a bottle I'd never seen on the table before joining the scene. Not one to miss out on tasting something new, I poured myself a sip while chatting away and was immediately floored. “What is this? Mencia? Whatever it is, please tell me this is a wine I can feature for the club!”
What captivated me was the incredible complexity of this wine. It's powerful, with a strong tannic and smoky finish, but in the middle, it has this perfect balance between ripe fruit and a sort of savory, salty bitterness. With aromas of tobacco and earth, black cherry and plum, and a potpourri of black peppercorn, cardamom, and licorice on the finish, it's a meaty wine that's unsurprisingly perfect for pairing with meat. It’s delicious with smoked and grilled steaks, charcuterie, braises and stews, as well as with wild game like venison and duck. It’s even great with corned beef - just in time for Saint Patty’s Day! For the veggie-lovers, it would also pair deliciously with smoked or grilled mushrooms and bell peppers, lentils, or vegetarian chilis.
To get the absolute best out of this bottle, I recommend decanting into a larger vessel or opening a few hours before you sit down to the table. I would also avoid pairing it with overly bitter or spicy foods because they might shift the balance of the wine into an overly tannic and bitter territory