Demencia (Ponferrada)

Mencia is the name of the grape. An old, indigenous variety being brought back to life by young winemakers in northwest Spain. A total contrast to many other heavy Spanish reds, Mencia is usually a crisp, fresh red with low tannins (that’s the tea-like mouth coating sensation you experience with heavy, young, red wines). In the right hands it is tipped (by us) to become the Pinot Noir of northern Spain. The right hands belong to Nacho Leon, who continued with his day job as long as he could before it became too much to juggle. The project started as a hobby in 2006 making just 1,924 bottles of this very arty red wine in a garage in the lush, green, rain-soaked and very hilly region of Bierzo on the Pilgrims’ Trail to Santiago de Compostela. Demencia – of Mencia – demented, get it? He knows he’s a bit crazy.
We have worked with Demencia from the very first vintage. Nacho makes a little bit more now. The 2009 vintage yielded 7,326 bottles.
When we visited Nacho in 2009 he showed us pretty much every one of his tiny parcels of beautiful, gnarly, old vines around the neighbouring villages of Matadeprada, Valdelaliebre, Valdemanteiga and Villegas.
In 2011 he introduced a new bottling – Pyjama. It’s a selection from 50 year-old vines on sandy soil, fermented with wild yeasts in larger tanks before being moved into used barrels for ageing. Then came some Demencia selections; Villegas – old vines from a single location in Valtuille de Abajo. Cachican – a Natural Wine made from multiple varietals, some identified (Merenzao, Godello, Doña Blanca, Brancellao, Mencía, Garnacha Tintorera & Tempranillo), some unknown, from a single vineyard. Pyjama and Demnecia whites also joined the line-up – both Godello.