Varieties the Spice of Life

Oddball grape varieties are all the rage, the interest spurred by a growing fascination with obscure imported wines such as Petalos. Mencia is the latest. Mencia vine material is now available at the Yalumba nursery in South Australia, and the winemaker at Oliver’s Taranga Vineyards in McLaren Vale, Corrina Wright, claims to be the first in Australia to plant some. “We have a couple of rows planted so far, and are aiming to have a three-acre [1.2-hectare] patch in the next couple of years,” she says. “We decided to have a go at it because even though we don’t have the altitude of Bierzo [the Spanish region associated with mencia], we do have the iron-rich soils … We love the mencias that we have been able to access so far. They seem to be like a cross between shiraz and pinot noir in simple terms.” It’s likely to be a few years before we can taste them. Oliver’s already produces the Italian varietals sagrantino and fiano.

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