Grape (Vitis)
Mencía grapes in Ribeira Sacra
Color of berry skin Noir
Species Vitis vinifera
Also called See list of synonyms
Origin Spain
Notable regions Northwestern Spain
Notable wines Bierzo DO

Mencía 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), and it is primarily found in the Bierzo, Ribeira Sacra and Valdeorras regions.[1]

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 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.

Mencía grapes at harvest time in El Bierzo

Relationship to other grapes

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.

It is often cited as being identical to Portugal's Jaen du Dão (or "Jaen" for short) grape variety,[2] but as of 2010, the Vitis International Variety Catalogue keeps separate records for these two varieties, in which there are no overlapping synonyms.[3][4]. However, DNA profiling carried out by the Department of Vegetal Biology of the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid has concluded that Mencía and Jaen are one and the same. See the Department's variety catalog at


Mencía is supposed to have such synonyms as Loureiro Tinto, Negra, Negro, and Tinto Mollar, according to outdated references. The only admitted synonym in Spain and Portugal currently is Jaen.[3]


  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. ^ Jancis Robinson, ed (2006). "Jaen". Oxford Companion to Wine (3rd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 372. ISBN 0-19-860990-6. 
  3. ^ a b Mencia, Vitis International Variety Catalogue, accessed on June 27, 2010
  4. ^ Jaen du Dao, Vitis International Variety Catalogue, accessed on June 27, 2010

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