Mencía (grape)

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Grape (Vitis)
Uva Mencia.JPG
Mencía grapes in Ribeira Sacra
Color of berry skinNoir
SpeciesVitis vinifera
Also calledSee list of synonyms
Notable regionsGalicia
Notable winesBierzo DO
VIVC number7623

Mencía, known as Jaen in Portugal, is a Spanish grape variety primarily found in the northwestern part of the country. It is planted on over 9,100 hectares (22,000 acres) in spain, and it is primarily found in the Bierzo, Ribeira Sacra, Valdeorras and Monterrei regions of Spain and is also planted in Portugal with over 2,500 hectares (6,200 acres) mostly in the Dão DOC region.[1][2]

Most wines produced from Mencía have traditionally been light, pale, relatively fragrant red wines for early consumption. This style of wine was the result of post-Phylloxera plantations on fertile plains, which tended to give high yields but diluted wine. In recent years, much more concentrated and complex wines have been produced by a new generation of winemakers, primarily from old vines growing on hillsides, often on schist soils, in combination with careful vineyard management. This has led to a renewed interest in Mencía and the denominaciones de origen using it, such as Bierzo, Valdeorras, Ribeira Sacra, Monterrei and the little-known Liébana.

Since the 1990s, the grape is increasing in popularity, and an increasing number of noted Spanish winemakers are now working with it.

Relationship to other grapes[edit]

Portuguese Dão wine featuring Jaen (Mencia) in the blend.

It was once thought to be an ancient clone of Cabernet Franc, with which it shares some of its aromas, an impression which has been dispelled with DNA profiling.[2]

Instead, DNA profiling carried out by the Department of Vegetal Biology of the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid has concluded that Mencía is identical to Portugal's Jaen do Dão[3] (or Jaen for short) grape variety. However, just recently it has been determined via microsatellite DNA fingerprinting analysis (a.k.a. DNA profiling) that, contrary to what was previously believed, Mencía (Jaén do Dão) likely originated in Portugal since it was the result of a crossing between Alfrocheiro and Patorra, two Portuguese red grape cultivars from the Dão and the Douro regions respectively.[4]


Over the years, Mencía has been known under a variety of synonyms including: Fernao Pires Tinta, Giao, Jaen, Loureiro Tinto, Mencin, Negra, Negro, Mencia Roble, Tinto Mencia and Tinto Mollar.[5] It is known as Jaén colorado in León, not to be confused with Jaén blanco or Jaén rosado (both of which are variants of Cayetana) and Jaén tinto, from Huelva.[2]


  1. ^ Jancis Robinson, ed. (2006). "Mencía". Oxford Companion to Wine (3rd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 435–436. ISBN 0-19-860990-6.
  2. ^ a b c Robinson, Jancis; Harding, Julia; Vouillamoz, José (2013). Wine Grapes: A complete guide to 1,368 vine varieties, including their origins and flavours. Penguin Books Limited. ISBN 9780141968827.
  3. ^ Jancis Robinson, ed. (2006). "Jaen". Oxford Companion to Wine (3rd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 372. ISBN 0-19-860990-6.
  4. ^ Grapevine cultivar 'Alfrocheiro' or 'Bruñal' plays a primary role in the relationship among Iberian grapevines. Cunha et al., Vitis 54 (Special Issue), 59–65 (2015).
  5. ^ Mencia Archived 2012-04-05 at the Wayback Machine, Vitis International Variety Catalogue, accessed on May 25th, 2014