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Cesar Marquez, Parajes de Bierzo 2018
Mencia 85%, Alicante Bouschet 7%
Castilla y Leon
Parajes means "places" in Spanish, fruit is sourced from a number of villages and the wine paints a snapshot of the region each year.
Hand harvested. All plots are fermented separately with native yeasts in open barrels of 225L or 500L. Depending on the plot, from 15% to 100% whole cluster. Maceration and fermentation last from 15 to 60 days with no temp control. Very delicate handling of the ferments, either very light wetting of the cap or very delicate punch downs. After fermentation, wines are aged in 225L and 500L barrels of 4 to 7 years old for one year. No racking during this year. After one year, the wines are blended.
Young winemaker Cesar Marquez has deep family roots in the Bierzo region. His introduction to winemaking was via uncle Raul (Perez). And as an apprenticeship has worked in the family wineries, and spent time in Mendoza with the Michelini brothers. For his own project, started in 2015, he is exploring the possibilities of a Burgundy-inspired classification system in Bierzo. He works a number of parcels of over 100 year old bush vines around Valtuille de Abajo. The winemaking in all his reds is quite similar, aiming to express the origin of the grapes over the winemaking process. In a nutshell, Mencia grapes plus a little Garnacha Tintorera which grows in between are partially destemmed and fermented in open barriques. Post-fermentation macerations are normally quite long, after which, all wines spend 12 months in old barrels without any racking or top ups before being released the following winter. Each has a different expression based on their soils, altitudes and expositions. His fresh, expressive Mencias show the promise of this grape in the right place and hands.
Wine Advocate 92pts (2016) - There are some new wines, and in 2016, Perez produced a blend from different old vineyards he called 2016 Parajes. 2016 was a cool year, very different from 2017. The vineyards used were 70% from Valtuille and the rest from Camponaraya, Ponferrada, Arganza and Toral. Each plot fermented with its own yeasts in oak barrels, and the wines matured separately for one year, after which time they were blended. This is super aromatic, perfumed and floral, very clean with nuance and complexity that I often find comes from blending grapes from many different zones and soils. This is really impressive, elegant and balanced, super tasty, drinkable but with energy and clout.