So, from time to time, it's good for me to do the same. I'd never before tried the Mencia grape or any wine from Spain's Bierzo region, so when I saw the name Perfecto, the time seemed right to add another varietal to the list. Escondite Perfecto, to give it the full name, means "perfect hiding place" in Spanish. Could I lose myself in a glass?
The Marks and Spencer labeling is a little misleading. There's a natural cork rather than the synthetic closure mentioned, so were the other descriptions to be trusted? Plum, raspberry and spice with floral notes set high expectations from this 2010 oak-aged wine.
Initially, I didn't get much scent - even after swirling & letting the glass develop for a while before tasting. To be fair to the wine, it is the cold season and I had eaten a rather spicy meal, earlier in the evening.
Medium bodied, with pleasing acidity, and medium tannin levels, this is a fairly easy to drink red wine, though it would probably work better accompanying foods like Serrano ham, roast pork or cheeses.
The flavours, like the nose (or smell of the wine) are fairly light and certainly much less pronounced than I'd hoped from a wine with such a depth of colour.
There are some similarities to a south of France Syrah in the floral notes with plum and spice character, but there's a little less texture on the body. So pleasant but not Perfecto, at least at this stage.
Bierzo is in Spain's North West corner, in the province of Léon, yet still benefiting from some Atlantic influence coming in from neighbouring Galicia. Vines receive a winning combination of 2200 sunshine hours and around 700mm of rain annually. The grape variety Mencia (apparently the same as Portuguese grape Jaen, if DNA profiling is to be believed, and another I've never tried) suffered for years from being planted on over fertile soils which led to high yields but dilute wine. It's now coming back into it's own as winemakers work with old vines on "schist" soil slopes. (Schist is a kind of crystalline rock which retains heat well but has low organic nutrients). There have been references to the aromatic and herbaceous quality of Cabernet Franc, but that wasn't something I experienced with this bottle.
Determined to give the wine the best chance, I sliced up a few chunks of parmesan. That, and leaving the wine for an hour or two definitely seemed to add something. The body felt fuller, the lifted violet or rose became more prominent. A character emerged.
Mr Purple Teeth returned from his evening out and was forced to sample for the benefit of you, my dear readers. I was surprised that his verdict was "I'd happily drink this with you". I had feared the lack of texture would put him off. So, for best results, my advice is to decant an hour or two before serving.
We kept a glass for the next day, and it fared well, with increased smoothness & body. Mr Purple Teeth seemed to like it even more.
Although lacking some complexity, there is an elegance there just waiting for you to experience it. I will be looking for other examples of this varietal.
I'm still not sure I'd lose myself in a glass, but I'm happy to have experimented, and maybe you will be too.