Berrande is a limited, two barrel production, 100% Mencía wine coming from one of the highest elevation vineyards of the Monterrei region in Galicia at 700m (2,297 ft). Galicia is in northwestern Spain, often times referred to as Green Spain due to the heavy rainfall resulting in abundant green pastures. Berrande is the name of an isolated town of 260 people, next to the Portuguese border, where the vineyard is located. Driving through Berrande reminds you of Priorat. The landscape is arid, steep and full of slate. Berrande is like the Priorat of the Atlantic. Out of the 7 wine regions of northwestern Spain in Zone 1 (Rias Baixas, Ribeiro, Ribeira Sacra, Arribes, Monterrei, Valdeorras and Bierzo), Monterrei is one of the driest and warmest areas. Jose Luis Mateo, the visionary behind the Quinta da Muradella Estate uses a minimalist approach to convey, in its most pure form, the mineral identity of the town of Berrande. The wine is fermented with its natural yeast in stainless steel tanks. After fermentation the wine ages in barrels for 14 moths and then goes into the bottles without filtration or clarification. After 11 months in the bottle the wine is released to the market. In the words of Eric Pfanner of The New York Times, Berrande has the “feel of a fine red Burgundy”. On a recent article about Quinta da Muradella wines, Jancis Robinson says: “Although it is fascinating to taste wines from these relatively obscure varieties, what shines here is 'the soul of Monterrei' and the deft, light-handed winemaking of a skillful and intuitive winemaker.”
WHAT MAKES THIS WINE UNIQUE? Two barrels produced. 100% Mencía tended in slate stone yielding only 2,000kg/ha. Organically certified vineyard, steep, high elevation vineyard at 700m (2,297 ft) altitude. Indigenous yeast. Bottled with no filtration or clarification.
RATING HISTORY: 2012 90JS; 2011 93IWC; 2011 92WA; 2008 91RP
GRAPE: 100% Mencia. Organically grown vines planted in 1995. Tended in slate stone soil at 700 m (2,283 ft.) elevation
PAIRING SUGGESTIONS: Braised pork shoulder in wild mushroom sauce, osso bucco, ox tail soup and aged, hard cheeses would all pair well with this wine’'s distinctive aromatic and dark fruit profile.
VINIFICATION AND AGEING: 100% whole cluster. Fermentation with its own yeast in a stainless steel tank. The wine spends 14 months in 228 liter French oak barrels and 11 months in the bottle before release.
PRODUCTION: 100 cases (6 pack)
LOCATION, SOIL, CLIMATE: The winery's vineyards are located in Zone 1 within the region of Monterrei, towards the interior of Galicia, close to the Portuguese border. The Berrande vineyard is located in the steep-mountainous town of Berrande at 700 meters (2,297 ft.) elevation, within the district of Vilardevós. The soil here is slate stone. The climate is Atlantic with a Continental influence. Monterrei is one of the Galician appellations furthest from the Atlantic Ocean. This inland Continental setting brings a drier and warmer climate than western Galician regions. Here, there's an average 23 inches of yearly rainfall and closer to the water in Rias Baixas, the average is 93 inches.
TASTING NOTES: Heady, expressive aromas of dark berry and cherry preserves, cracked pepper and licorice, with an exotic Indian spice quality building in the glass. Smoke-accented blackcurrant and bitter cherry flavors gain depth and power with air while maintaining vivacity and focus. Finishes sweet and extremely long, with juicy acidity adding bite.
All photos: Friederike Paetzold