The forecast for Saturday was fabulous blue sunshine and a gorgeously warm day – and it was spot on!
We headed across the provincial line into Castilla y León and the highly esteemed Bierzo region where the Mencía grape holds court.
Our first stop was Bodegas Pittacum where we experienced a deep insight into the terroir, Roman history, origin of the word Pittacum and much, much more before heading into the tasting room. Pittacum’s Mencías are top class and very reasonably priced – particularly given the age of some of the bush trained vines and low yields. As well as tasting their four Mencías, we also tasted their single vineyard Garnacha Tintoreria (or Alicante Bouschet as we might know it better).
From Pittacum it was a half hour hop to the picturesque town of Vilafranca de Bierzo where we met up with the owner of the Luna Beberide estate – Luna Beberide himself! He drove us to the family farmhouse which has a stunning situation right in the middle of the vineyards. Tasting through his Mencías of differing altitudes and age, we experienced a different expression of Mencía but equally high quality. It was truly idyllic, sitting outside, in the vineyards washing down lunch with some superb wines.
Our final night dinner was at the imposing Parador that overlooks Monforte de Lemos and a beautifully warm evening oversaw our ascent up the hotel and into the private dining room with fabulous views of the area.
Having had a rather large lunch, we were grateful for a light, fish orientated meal – a mussel soup, beautifully grilled hake and a chocolate dessert. All washed down with some Godello, a fascinating Alicante Bouschet rosado, a Treixadura and Mencía – all from the Ribera Sacra region. It was still light as we headed back down the hill with a gorgeous orange glow behind the hills.