Dominio de Tares Cepas Viejas was one of the first ambassadors of Mencía from Bierzo as it introduced this grape variety to many consumers both in Spain and abroad. Founded in 2000 by a group of investors and wine lovers, the company expanded in 2005 to Los Oteros, a wine region also in the province of León where the indigenous red grape Prieto Picudo is grown. For a short time it also owned Lusco in Rías Baixas (Galicia).
Grapes are sourced from almost 30 small winegrowers who tend vines in the villages of Valtuille de Abajo and Villadecanes in the lower Bierzo area, as well as from their own vineyards surrounding the winery higher up in San Román de Bembibre (Bierzo Alto) and Quilós near Cacabelos. Bierzo still benefits from a large amount of old vines so all of Dominio de Tares vineyards are 40- to 90- years-old. Winemaker Rafael Somonte is in charge of the wines since 2014. He’s currently focusing on reducing the presence of oak to obtain a purer Mencía expression.
The range of wines starts with Baltos (€8 in Spain, 75,000 bottles), a young Mencía made from 40-year-old vines with just four months of barrel aging. It is quite common in Bierzo to find entry-level reds sourced from old vines adding depth and character. Dominio de Tares Cepas Viejas (€13.5 in Spain, around 270,000 bottles) is their flagship red. It comes from 60+ year-old vines and it has spent nine to 12 months aging in oak. The oldest vines (80-years-old and beyond) are destined to Bembibre (€23, 6,000 bottles), a blend from several plots found on schist soils and slopes with grades up to 22%, and to P3 (€50, 1.500 bottles), sourced from 110-year-old ungrafted vines planted in an ancient plot called San Carlos.
Dominio de Tares also makes two 100% Godello white wines: La Sonrisa de Tares (€8 in Spain, 30,000 bottles), which was first released in the 2015 vintage, is fermented and matured with its lees for five months in stainless steel vats; and the more unctuous Dominio de Tares Godello (€13, 6,000 bottles) with six months of aging in 250-litre and 500-litre oak barrels. The final blend always includes a part of unoaked wines.
A trademark practice in Dominio de Tares is the fact that their wines, both white and red, are fermented with indigenous yeasts since the 2007 vintage.