The 4€ Bierzo Mencía experience
I have something of a Modern Art-like fascination with the grocery store chain, Lidl. The implementation of their stores varies wildly from one country to another and in some stores, such as those in the UK, the wine section is quite stellar, offering up great bargains. Of course there are some bargains that are blatant lies about “no hangover” Prosecco but overall, their roll is solid.
In the Spanish Lidls (Lidli?), the wine offer is generally more basic. Sometimes a great deal like this Châteauneuf pops up but generally, the wines are everyday, simpler wines that are priced as such and don’t seem to have the thought put into them that the UK buyers do.
Passing through the other day, I spotted this Vinos de Arganza – Encanto Selección 2014. A wine made from the Mencía grape in DO Bierzo, it’s priced at 4€. I bit the bullet and bought it not because I thought it was going to be a stellar wine for the price but mainly to see what a 4€ Bierzo tastes like. My overall takeaway is that it tastes pretty much like every other 4€ wine you can find in Spain regardless of what grape or region it came from.
Nothing about it says Mencía. There’s a very dark ruby color with a garnet rim. Berry bramble, bits of red strawberry could be indicative of the grape but then chocolate, cedar, smacks of unbalanced wood and some smoky reduction gets in the way. The alcohol isn’t terribly well integrated but still generally round on the palate albeit with a hollow middle, and hard, unbalanced finish. They say it spends three months in American oak, but as to how much of it does is up for debate as there’s this non-integrated wood aspect to it I associate with a splish splash bath of wood chips.
This description can be applied to just about any wine in this price category like a Californian Zin or Aussie Shiraz because it’s what happens when a winemaker, either by utter need or by scheming design makes a wine that will sell wholesale for 2€. Taking into account everything that had to be nipped tucked and squeezed to make this happen, it’s not a terrible wine. Guia Peñín after all gave it 89 points. That’s really a bit generous as I scored it at 82 which puts it in the super bargain discount range that, if served at a party, I’d drink–probably only one glass, but I’d still drink it. I have most definitely had worse but as it’s below 85 points, it falls before the one star review threshold for this site and thus, is fodder for commentary instead.
When it comes to Mencía though, I’ve most definitely had better and while it’s three times the price at an earth-shattering 13€, this bottle of Pétalos offers up a far more exciting option. After all, when it comes to the lower end of prices in wine, you really do get what you pay for.