When you want a top drop with the X factor, here it is…

2014 As Caborcas Single Vineyard Valdeorras $93.99

If the name Mencia doesn’t ring any bells, that’s because it’s an old grape variety, which is currently having a new lease of life in north west Spain, thanks to pioneering winemakers, such as Telmo Rodriguez, who made this beauty.

Like most of Spain’s top reds, it is made from vines grown without trellising wires – en vaso (in the shape of a vase). Vines grown this way, as mini bush vines, can maximise heat from the granite soils because they are low to the ground, which aids ripening, leading to powerful flavours of wild berries, black fruit (plums, cherries) and licorice here. The flavours suggest a wine from a warm area, but its fresh zing comes from bright acidity which adds length of flavour, thanks to sensitive winemaking and great care in the vineyard – which is at 550 to 600 metres altitude on slopes above the Bibei River.

The grapes in this wine were hand picked, fermented with native yeasts and then aged for 15 months in old large oak casks. It’s actually a blend too – Mencia is the leading grape in this wine with fellow native Spanish grapes in supporting roles – these are Merenzao, Souson, Garnacha, Godello and Brencellao.

The New Zealand importer is Vintners NZ, phone 0800 687 9463 or www.vintners.co.nz