Bordeaux-born Grégory Pérez worked at Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste and Château Cos d’Estournel before he listened to his friends and moved to Spain. He settled down in Bierzo where he tends vineyards in Espadillo, a hamlet of the village of Arganza. In this mountainous area soils are mostly clay and decomposed slate.
Vines are planted on steep slopes at an altitude of over 600m. Exposure to midday sun and good aeration are key issues for Grégory. His wines are made based on eight key principles: soil knowledge, biodiversity protection, indigenous grapes, no aggressive treatments, no herbicides, low yields, selection of grapes in the vineyard and traditional winemaking and aging. He has been progressively blending Garnacha Tintorera (Alicante Bouschet) in his Mencia reds, most of which ferment with variable quantities of whole bunches. He works with a variety of fermentation and aging vessels —from stainless steel tanks to oak vats, foudres and barrels.
The number of wines has considerably expanded from the original white and red Mengoba. It starts with the entry-level range Brezo de Grégory Pérez. Grapes are sources from different villages in the area and there are three versions: white (Godello and Dona Blanca, 42,000 bottles, €9.5), rosé (100% Mencía, €7.5) and red (Mencía blended with some Garnacha Tintorera, 30,000 bottles, €7.5). The red is young and delicious and is packed with sweet, crunchy red fruit.
The Mengoba range includes a Godello on its lees (5,000 bottles, €15) aged in large wooden vats for 12 months plus two reds with notable influence of slate soils at 700+ meters high: Mengoba (€15) and Mengoba Espanillo (3,000 bottles, €21) which is a blend of three plots from the village.
Mengoba La Vigne de Sanchomartín (around €40, production below 1,000 bottles) comes from Grégory’s highest plot. Despite being fermented with whole bunches, this red is the most aerial and elegant in the range. All the varieties grown in the plot (Mencía, Garnacha Tintorera and Godello) are picked at the same time and co-fermented, then aged for 12-13 months in 600-litre barrels. Reds stand out due to the pure, respectful approach to vinegrowing and winemaking.
There are a couple of experimental white wines too: Mengoba Tinajas, a striking orange wine aged in amphorae whose almost pale colour, doesn’t reflect the skin-contact process behind it (Grégory says it is the way Godello reacts to the process), and Mengoba Las Botas, another southern-inspired white aged in butts which have previously contained sherry.