2021 Cesar Marquez Perez Sufreiral Mencia
Cesar Marquez has Bierzo running through his veins, and is the latest generation of the Perez family to own the leading Castro Ventosa winery in north-western Spain. Growing up around surrounded by the region's leading exponents, including a lengthy apprenticeship with one of the world's greatest winemakers, his uncle Raul Perez, has shaped much of what Cesar values in wine. While he still manages the family estate, Cezar started his own venture in 2015, and is already one of the most exciting young prospects in Spain.
Having a deep understanding and access to some of the best vineyards Bierzo has to offer, Cezar focuses on preserving purity and freshness, highlighting the promise Mencia has in the right place when made with attention to detail. Cezar is structuring his line-up of wines in Burgundian fashion, making a broader appellation wine, a village wine, along with several single vineyard offerings. Winemaking is similar on all wines, with grapes partially destemmed and fermented in open barriques, before spending 12 months in old barrels without any racking or top ups before bottling the following winter. These are wines that are not just great examples of Bierzo Mencia, but wines that truly stand shoulder to shoulder with the finest from any region or country.
Sufreiral is a high elevation south-west facing vineyard, close to Pico Ferreira yet on the other side of the slope. Unusually the soils here are limestone leading to a more unique and elegant expression of Mencia.
A particular favorite of mine, the 2021 Sufreiral comes from one of the few limestone-based soils in Bierzo, in the village of Toral de los Vados, the other, southwest-facing side of Pico Ferreira. It fermented in 1,000-liter vats, as he has different small plots that are vinified separately, with some 35% full clusters and indigenous yeasts (like all his wines). It matured in 500- and 600-liter oak barrels for 12 months. The wine has a moderate 12.73% alcohol and very good and integrated acidity. It has chalky minerality, great elegance, a tender palate with very fine tannins and a super tasty, almost salty finish. This is open, delicate and amazingly elegant, a little à a Ribeira Sacra. 1,702 bottles were filled in December 2022. Drink 2023-2033.
Luis Gutiérrez - Wine Advocate (Aug 11, 2023)