What a frightening year we have experienced so far in 2024 and it is still not over yet. Kicking off with severe spring frosts all around Europe, in May, the Northwest of Spain was hit after Catalonia earlier.

Bierzo and Valdeorras were hit by a severe hail storm with golf ball-sized ice. They suffered damage from the storm.

Hands of ice. This might be the end of some of the vines. (Photo: Jose Danilo/unsplash.com)

On the 25th of June, Valtuille de Abajo was hit with around 1235.53 acres (500 hectares) of Bierzo’s most prestigious plots.

Bearing in mind harvest is in about 2 months, growers are grappling with serious concerns about salvaging what was initially promised to be an excellent vintage. Additionally, the extensive damage to the vines could jeopardize next year's harvest.

The reason for this is the storm has hit the vineyards at a critical stage, right after flowering, with grapes in their initial growth phase. During this period, berries are generally extremely vulnerable to fungal diseases, and the current combination of wet conditions and high temperatures has significantly increased the risk of infections such as downy mildew, black rot, and powdery mildew.

In response to the damage, affected Denominations of Origin (DOs) are urgently advising growers to treat the vines to heal the hail-inflicted wounds and prevent fungal growth. Wine growers in Bierzo are starting these treatments immediately and are anxiously monitoring the weather, hoping to salvage enough grapes for the fall harvest.

And it is not over with this year's harvest. The damage was extensive in several plots, causing damage to the wooden parts of the vines and threatening next year's harvest as well.

So let us support the growers in Bierzo by exploring some of what the region has to offer. We have created a list of a few wines for you to try. But first, let’s get to know the Bierzo region more.

Bierzo - Geography and Climate

Nestled in the northwest corner of Castilla y León, Bierzo lies near the border with Galicia. The heart of this Denomination of Origin (DO) is a serene valley extending from Ponferrada in the southeast to Villafranca del Bierzo in the northwest.

Encircled by mountains, this valley forms a natural divide between Galicia and Asturias to the north and the expansive Castilian plains of the Meseta Norte to the south.

These geographical features create a unique transitional climate, blending the Atlantic influences from the north with the warmer, drier conditions of Spain’s interior.

Bierzo benefits from substantial rainfall, though it is not as wet as neighboring Galicia. The valley floor and higher altitude vineyards offer a diverse range of temperatures and orientations. Soil composition varies throughout the region. The valley floor, with its wetter, clay-rich soils, produces wines with a fuller mouthfeel. Conversely, the slopes leading up to the mountains feature well-drained soils with more stone and slate, resulting in wines that are more refined with pronounced mineral characteristics.

The Grape Varieties of Bierzo

Beyond Mencia as the most famous black grape variety and Godello as the most beloved white grape variety, there are some worth exploring. Some of them you can also find in other regions of Spain, and even in other countries, such as Garnacha, Tintorera, the local name for Alicante Bouschet, Doña Blanca or Palomino, the grape variety that is linked to Sherry production.

Mencia

Mencía thrives in the slate-rich soils of northwest Spain, producing wines that are typically fresh, perfumed, and ethereal with appealing fruit flavors. Often likened to Pinot Noir or compared to Loire's Cabernet Franc, Mencía wines are versatile, shining with subtle oak or no oak at all.

Godello

Godello produces wines with notable acidity, ample body, and higher alcohol levels than other whites. Expect strong fruit flavors, from citrus and green apple to tropical peach, with a distinct slate influence adding complexity. Usually fermented in stainless steel to preserve its fruit and mineral profile, Godello can also be aged in wooden barrels, imparting a pleasant toasted flavor reminiscent of oak-aged Chardonnay.

Now, we hope you are thirsty to try out more and hence here comes the list of amazing wines from Bierzo.

[insert:wine:cesar-marquez-la-salvacion-godello-2021]

[insert:wine:emilio-moro-la-revelia-godello-2019]

[insert:wine:veronica-ortega-quite-mencia-2021]

[insert:wine:cesar-marquez-parajes-2021]

[insert:wine:michelini-i-mufatto-en-el-camino-2021]

[insert:wine:luna-beberide-paixar-mencia-bierzo-2020]

[insert:wine:dominio-de-tares-cepas-viejas-mencia-bierzo-2017]

Lotte Gabrovits

Latest articles