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Castro Ventosa is one of the most exciting and highest-scoring projects in Bierzo. Every year The Wine Advocate's Luis Gutierrez adorns the wines with huge scores and, most importantly, these are wines that we love here at Farr Vintners. The 2020 scores are as high as ever.

The Mencia produced at Castro Ventosa comes from sandy soils around the village of Valtuille de Abajo. The vines are up to 100 years old, producing deep, ageworthy wines. This is Raul Perez's family estate. The godfather of great Bierzo, he created this estate's signature of freshness, vibrancy and balance. His nephew Cesar Marquez, who is arguably Bierzo's most exciting young talent, has now taken over the winemaking from his uncle, who remains as consultant. "The quality has not stopped growing since" Cesar took over the project, says Gutierrez in The Wine Advocate. 
The improvements are clear to see since Cesar took the reins. Gutierrez notes “they are separating the plots to have more precision." Critically he states "the wines have less alcohol, less ripeness and less oak, and they are cleaner and more focused”. The 2020s showed beautifully when we tasted them; a warm vintage tempered by smart viticulture and winemaking, each wine has a brilliant, individual personality and has been made in very small quantities.

We have made up special tasting six packs for these wines. They contain two bottles each of RapolaoCepas Centenarias and Villegas. All three have high scores from Gutierrez, with both the Rapolao and Cepas Centenarias receiving 97 points. They impressed us greatly, showcasing Mencia's different personalities with remarkable depth and precision. All three are delicious now but have the capacity to age for a decade or more.

El Rapolao:

"The 2020 Valtuille El Rapolao feels lighter and more open than the 2021 I tasted next to it, the tannins a little more present. This comes from a centenary plot planted with a field blend that was vinified together with 30% full clusters and indigenous yeasts, and the wine matured in 500-liter French oak barrels for one year. Some 1,700 bottles were filled in December 2021. 2023 - 2032"

97 points, Luis Gutierrez, The Wine Advocate

"The Rapolao sits more at the Syrah end of Mencia. Blueberry and cherry fruit come together with a note of black pepper and wild woody herbs. The palate has density and flesh with more steeped cherries and blueberry, yet there is styll an underlying freshness that defines the Castro Ventosa wines this year. Succulent and long with a chalky texture, the finish is layered with dried violet, savoury herbs and pure hedgerow fruit. Excellent."

 95 points, Thomas Parker MW, Farr Vintners

Cepas Centenarias:

"The 2020 Valtuille Cepas Centenarias, a wine from only one plot since 2018, showed extremely well in 2020, the finest in the vintage together with the La Vitoriana, almost as good as the amazing 2021. The Matalospardos zone of the village is where the soils mix sand and clay, and a corner of the plot delivered some 2,000 kilograms out of the 6,000 kilograms of grapes from the whole vineyard, which has a lot of white grapes and results in very good finesse in the wine. It matured in 225- and 500-liter oak barrels for 12 months. 3,800 bottles and 36 magnums were filled in January 2022. 2023-2032"

97 points, Luis Gutierrez, The Wine Advocate

"A vibrant, bright purple colour that is matched by beautiful and fresh blueberry and red cherry fruit on the nose. There is an airy, floral quality to this wine which a hint of green peppercorn and rosemary. The palate is juicy yet fresh, plump red and black fruit is propped up by fine tannins and tangy acids. This wine has great vibrancy, with intense yet delicate fruit and a long, fine finish. A joy to drink now."

 95 points, Thomas Parker MW, Farr Vintners


"There's a bigger difference between the 2020 Valtuille Villegas and the 2021 than between any of the other cru bottlings of the two vintages. This feels a little more forward and open, a little riper despite the moderate 12.9% alcohol and a little toasty. It fermented with 100% full clusters and indigenous yeasts and matured in used 500-liter barrels for one year. 1,150 bottles were filled in December 2021. 2023-2028"

93 points, Luis Gutierrez, The Wine Advocate

"The Villegas 2020 is very much on the Pinot Noir side of Mencia, full of fragrant red fruit, peppery spice and dried herbs. The palate shows the same juicy fragrance with a delicate, intense fruit core lined with a streak of fresh acidity. Direct, linear and intense, this is very long, growing on the finish. A very impressive, lithe style."

95  points, Thomas Parker MW, Farr Vintners