Mencia is an uncommon grape from the little known (in North America) appellation of Bierzo in Spain. When I saw a review for the Pittacum, Mencia, 2006 in the WS recommending it as a smart buy (coz I like smart buys) scoring 92 pts, I had to give it a whirl. "Toasty, smokey aromas" they said. And since I was smoking a turkey for american thanksgiving (any excuse for a turkey, eh?) I thought it might be a match. Well I didn't get any smokey aromas - more like meaty cherry. On the palate, without decanting, it was rather weak and uneventful. After 2 hours of breathing it opened up to a thicker, medium bodied wine. "Deep, focused black cherry, mineral, licorice and mountain herb" they said. Mmmm. More like cola with slightly stewed black fruit and prunes. I don't disagree with the herb comment but they are definitely in the background. Good wine in the end, chuggable and food friendly, but too forgettable to score 92 points. It is worth the $19 though.
For only $3 more a much more satisfying wine (although not as food friendly) is the Magpie Estate, The Sack, 2005 Barossa Shiraz. This is the real deal - full bodied, opaque, dense, chewy, black fruit compote, hint of menthol. Drink up though, it's on the downside of it's life - you get the feeling the fruit is stewing slowly and losing it's freshness. Close to a "wow" wine, probably was 2 years ago.
ps here is the smoked beast: