A return to the origins of Rioja wines

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Legendary wineries have emerged from it thanks to the Bordeaux influence. Throughout the years, the DO has grown significantly. Several types of wine are produced within it, from modern to classical ones, all of them under the brands Joven, Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva.  Nowadays, many small winemakers produce wine without been attached to any labels and even refusing to be under the DO. Their intention is to represent the region in a fair way, without any tags and without falling for any trends. They aim to reinterpret the aromas and flavours that reminisce their childhood. Cultivating the vines with respect for the environment and avoiding overripening. In the winery, they make wines in a traditional way, without over extractions nor excess of wood, giving the grape the starring role.

Here we show you six small wineries that we think make wines with an extraordinary personality:

Vinos Subterráneos: A winery that comes from the underground caves in San Vicente de la Sonsierra. They are currently located in Laguardia. Gabi and his friends make this wine for their own enjoyment. They want to have a good time and reinterpret the classical style of Rioja from their own point of view. They make their wine with the local varieties of the area, ageing them for long periods of time in small used barrels. They produce two wines, V/O and Herminio Bolaextra. The first one, which we present to you, is made from the three classic varieties: Tempranillo, Graciano and a small amount of Viura. A limited number of 1250 bottles that contain the pure essence of Rioja. Don’t wait to try it!

En voz baja: This young winery founded in 2012 by Carlos Mazo and Isabel Ruiz, will show us one of the most authentic profiles of La Rioja Baja. Old Grenache and Graciano vines from the region of Alfaro. Alongside the dry Mediterranean climate, they fulfil a perfect symbiosis to live together and provide the best of these varieties. The alchemy unfolds in a small winery of Aldeanueva del Ebro, with local yeasts and no filtering. 100% Pure juice from La Rioja Baja.

Bodega Azpillaga Urarte: Regarding regenerative agriculture, Eduardo is one of the leaders in the area of Lanciego (Rioja Alavesa). He makes this Viña El Pago like no other, using carbonic maceration, the most classical style of the Rioja Alavesa. A fruity wine, with body and with a long life ahead.

Tentenublo: Roberto Oliván “El Pistolero de Viñaspre” (Rioja Alavesa) is a man who is passionate about his vines. He spends his days riding his horse around the vineyards, thinking about what he can do to make them grow as well as possible. He intends to interpret his old vineyards as honestly as he can to make his Ardachos, while he plants new vines so that his children can carry on  cultivating them and enjoying them. Xérico is a drinkable wine, and with this cuvée, he wants to pay tribute to his people, who are a true reflection of what they used to drink.

El Mozo Wines: a winery we have known for some time here. We spoke with them previously in our blog post “Un día en la galaxia de El Mozo Wines”. Malaspiedras was a step forward compared to what they produced before in the family winery. A selection of the best vines and a winemaking process without intervention. Ageing in barrels so that it stabilises and gains complexity.

Abel Mendoza: and lastly, the master, the winemaker par excellence. A person we had the pleasure to meet; Abel Mendoza, the word of a winemaker. For many years, he has been making this wine, which comes from a vineyard of San Vicente de la Sonsierra, without using oenological products. Now he has reached his goal: to produce wine without disguise nor defects.

We will carry on expanding this list, as Rioja wines have great potential and exciting projects will continue to be placed on the market.

Escrito en Red wine, Rioja, Sin categoría, Wineries | Tagged , |

Latest wines: new wines at Decántalo May 2017

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“Never cast a clout till May be out.” And never better said. This year, night frosts have caused severe damages in a lot of winegrowing areas of northern Spain. We are very sad about this, so we have decided to brighten your soul by bringing you some appealing novelties.

Flow Blanco 2016: we have just received the new vintage of one of the most fluid wines of Empordà, prepared mostly with Carignan. Yes, you read right; a white wine mostly produced with red wine grape and with no additives. Are you going to miss out?

Guímaro Godello 2016: in the Amandi subarea, in the Ribeira Sacra, one the most spectacular territories in the denomination, Pedro makes this white wine from local grapes, mainly Godello. A fresh and mineral personality, provided by slate soils, which will take you to the vineyards located on the steep slopes of the canyon of the river Sil.

Viña Tondonia Blanco 2004: we could not leave this wine behind. A wine produced through tradition and patience. María José López de Heredia did not cease to advocate for this type of wine, even when it was forgotten for years. Nowadays, her wines are very demanded. Each vintage that is left to age in her winery makes them even more appetising. This 2004 Reserva was born in an excellent year for the area. For those who like fine and complex white wines, this is a good choice.

De Sol a Sol Airén 2011: we are thrilled to present Juan Luis Villanueva’s wines. A humble, down-to-earth man, committed to the land. Century-old vines, semi-arid climate and the old deposits where it is produced in an old-fashioned way (several months in contact with the skins and no other kind of oenological product), directly take you to another time and place. A wine with soul, sometimes forgotten and sometimes impressive, but very lively. Don’t miss the chance to try it!

Pétalos del Bierzo 2015: born from the 16th harvest of Ricardo and Álvaro Palacios in El Bierzo, this wine is the base of the entire quality pyramid created by these winemakers when they arrived in the area and divided the Corullón vineyards into sites. The grapes, mostly Mencía (94%), with some white grape and Alicante Bouschet, come from several municipalities of El Bierzo. A wine that can be drunk now or left in the winery for longer. An unforgettable wine of this area.

Los Comuns Estrem 2014: we present you with this young project of Priorat, created with the aim of re-interpreting the scenery in a true way. This area provides low pH that helps protect wine and create wonderful natural wines, in this case, through carbonic maceration. Results are extraordinary: fruit, warmth and subtleness. A Priorat wine that is greatly enjoyed.

Marqués de Murrieta Gran Reserva 2010: A new vintage from a great winery/institution of Rioja. Located in Logroño, this wine is part of one the most classical concepts that exist in the DO Gran Reserva. A long ageing process in barrels stabilises wine in a natural way. Only in excellent vintages, like this one from 2010.

Dido La Universal 2015: new vintages from the winning couple, Sara Pérez and Rene Barbier Junior, are always welcome here. In this occasion, it is turn for Dido 2015 red wine. A combination of varieties and soils, where fruit prevails. The months it spends in barrels make it more complex. A wine that clearly let’s us know what a Montsant should be.

Vinos Subterráneos VS 01 2014: A small gem from the heart of the Rioja Alavesa has just arrived at the Decantalo headquarters. A wine that is born from the ideas of young creators who are enthusiastic about re-interpreting the past and taking it into the future. According to them, the olden days were better in La Rioja.

Colet Navazos Extra Brut Reserva 2012: Two areas, each with a different winemaking process, mark the territory of these two wineries. The “velo de flor” (flor or yeast film), in the case of Equipo Navazos, and the second fermentation, on behalf of Colet in Penedés, come together to created one the sparkling wines with most personality of the Iberian Peninsula. Made from Chardonnay and with a Manzanilla and mature Manzanilla finish; a master touch.

Escrito en Decantalo, Wine news | Tagged , |

New wines Decántalo April 2017

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Spring is coming and is comes accompanied by many fresh novelties. For April we are going to present you several wines full of energy and taste.

Vendrell Olivella Orgànic Brut Nature 2012: We present a new incorporation from the D.O. Cava. In Les Cabanys, close to Villafranca del Penedés, this winery grows their grapes following ecological criteria. This cava is a coupage of the traditional and local varieties Xarel·lo, Macabeo and Parellada. Balanced in its flavours of white fruits with a citric touch.

Callejuela Blanco Hornillos 2016: The Blanco brothers from Sanlúcar de Barrameda produce this wine made 100% of Palomino grapes that grow on calcareous soils. Simple, direct and saline as it is, it perfectly represents the countryside of Sanlúcar.

Bico da Ran 2016: Eulogio Pomares is the leader of this project of FentoWines. A winery, dedicated to elaborate the most different wine of Rias Baixas. Brico da Ran is their driest and most Atlantic wine.

MendallAbeurador 2016: Laureano is back with one of Terra Alta’s best Macabeos. An authentic wine without additives, voluminous but nervous at the same time. A wine that leaves an impression.

Joan d’Anguera Vi de Dármos 2016: A new vintage of the winery’s youngest and most refreshing wine. A traditionally elaborated wine that conserves its fruity character.

Quinta Milú 2016: A new vintage of the youngest of the Germán R. Blanco family. All their wines are elaborated using traditional methods and stabilised by a short stay in barrels. Another great, young vintage and a perfect everyday wine.

Mengoba Mencia de Espanillo 2014: Gregory Perez is originally from Bordeaux but settled in the region of Bierzo. His clear work philosophy is making every vintage even better than the last one. His vineyard is located in the village of Espanillo and is full of Mencía, some Ganacha Tintorera (also known as Alicante Bouschet) and a little Godello. This vintage perfectly combines elegance and character.

Casa de Sí Chiquitín 2015: Catalayud 2011, two Australian winemakers settle in this semi-arid region full of Garnachavines. They are using traditional elaboration methods, always trying to represent the region as honest and sincere as possible. Amphorae, whole grapes and long maceration processes are the main characteristics of this winery.  The Chiquitín is a fruity, agile and fresh result from their work.

La Zorra Raro 2014: We present a new winery on our website. La Zorra is located in Sierra de Francia, Salamanca and is using local grape varieties, such as Rufete. The Raro is a great example for a wine of this grape. Aromas of woods and red fruit represent the personality of this wine.

Herencia Altes La Peluda 2015: La Peluda is one of Terra Alta’s finest wines. Núria Altés and Rafael de Haan started this Project in 2010. Step by step they learned to interpret their vineyards and developed the best ways to grow the different varieties. This Garnacha Peluda is so delicate that they decided to make a varietal wine without any other grapes.

Escrito en New wines |

Natural Wines

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Natural wine is one of the most ambiguous and difficult terms to define the world of wine. You might want to take a seat since this is not an easy topic to discuss.

What defines a natural wine? Being very strict, it is almost impossible to make a completely natural wine since the transformation from grapes to wine is made by us, which is why this term creates the basis for many and very long discussions. However, it is true that there are several techniques and elaboration methods that allow winemakers to produce their wines as natural as possible. Therefore the foundation of elaborating natural wines always lies in the philosophy of the winemaker.

Respect towards the environment and crafts are significant in the concept of ‘natural wine’. Traditional elaboration methods are implemented again and no synthetic fertilizers are used during the elaboration processes. In fact, the movement emerged from the need to recover the damaged soils and the biodiversity in the vineyards, which had suffered and lost quality during the years of industrial farming.

The natural wine revolution began in Beaujolais which was under a lot of influence by the industrialization of vineyards and modern oenology. Jules Chauvet (1907-1989) a studied physicist and biologist but also a great wine lover, started to produce wines without using any synthetic products. At the University of Lyon he had studied the impact of several yeast types on wine. The results clarified the relationship between organic cultivation, the soils, the huge variety of yeasts and the wide range of natural aromas in wines. He discovered that the sulphurisation before the fermentation eliminated a lot of the yeast and therefore a part of the wine’s character. He also analysed the different ways of fermenting, such as the carbonic maceration or the malolactic fermentation. Chauvet applied his knowledge and instead of elaborating common wines, he started elaborating natural wines.

Then several people showed their interest in his way of cultivating and elaborating. For example his neighbour, Marcel Lapierre, who in 1980 carried out his own oenology studies on several vintages and then joined the movement, following the principles of his idol Chauvet. Then followed Pierre Overnoy in 1984 and he started to vinify without adding any oenological products to the wine. In the regions of Rhone, Loire and Languedoc more and more people started to join them and nowadays there are many fairs dedicated to natural wines and more and more wine lovers have discovered those wines.

Also in Spain the natural wine movement has many followers even though it can still be considered a new trend. Around 2007 several winemakers, inspired by their French neighbours, adopted this way of elaborating. Laureano Serres (Mendall) in Terra Alta, Joan Ramón Escoda in Conca de Barberà and Manuel Valenzuela (Barranco Oscuro) in the Alpujarras of Granada started to introduce natural wines step by step to the Spanish wine industry.

More and more Spanish winemakers are taking a step forward towards natural elaboration. They cultivate using ecological techniques and control their elaboration processed. Right now we are all in a process of learning since this is not a science but requires many years of attention, analysis and intuition. We have to listen to our vineyards and then represent what they say in to elaboration methods.

We are going through an interesting era in the world of wine. This movement has surprised the foundations of modern agriculture and oenology and is recovering old customs, combining them with new methods and knowledge. New colours, aromas and flavours are entering the world of natural wines.

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Escrito en Winemaking | Tagged , , , , , |

A stroll around Clos Mogador with Rene Barbier Jr

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Last Saturday, at 12pm, we met René Barbier Jr. in Clos Mogador (Gratallops). It was one of those visits that give you butterflies, since this winery and region have been flagships in the winemaking world since our beginnings.

René arrived with a big smile, greeted us and invited us to climb into his pickup truck to take us straight to the vineyard.

While we drove through the Gratallops vineyards, he explained his family’s history. It all started in 1979 when his father arrived in Priorat; in 1986, Clos Mogador was created, and in 1989, they joined forces with other winemakers to add value to the region. We all already know the story. They opted for native grape varieties, Garnacha and Cariñena, although they also planted more advanced varieties such as Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon, a grape that brings energy and ageing capacity to wine. They applied winemaking techniques from Bordeaux teachings, which consist of long macerations and ageing in 225 litre barrels to refine the wines. Over the years, the results have been changing the vision of Priorat’s terroir.

René Barbier Jr. started working with his father in 1999. Together, René and his brother have been progressively injecting their own vision of the vineyard into Clos Mogador, as well as incorporating new techniques into production. While he was explaining this to us, his motivation was perfectly obvious: vineyards among olive trees and almond trees, plant cover, more biodiversity and a conviction that polycrop farming will be the future.

We aimed for the slopes that are most exposed to the heat, where we would appreciate how the vegetation changes considerably. Here, he talked about Cariñera, an exciting variety. He explained to us how it has demonstrated great capacity for adapting to such an extreme environment with a high potential for ageing.

We arrived at Manyetes, a vineyard planted across three different plots and cultivated with mainly Cariñera grapes, with a small quantity of Garnacha of different ages. It is a beautiful estate with half a dozen olive trees in the basin of a small stream.


We followed a meandering path through the slate slopes where we could appreciate the extreme conditions in which the vineyards grow. We passed through another of his projects, La Vinya Del Vuit, which he started with 8 friends in 2001. It is made up of three hectares of Cariñena, from which they make around 2000 bottles per vintage.

We arrived at Clos Mogador, an impressive 24 hectare slate ampitheatre where their father’s dreams started materialising. The two brothers are focusing on reviving the soil and creating plant cover. Their aim is to maintain the strength of the vineyard and supply moisture to the vines using the plant cover. This way, they can achieve a good balance between ripeness and alcohol content without it rising uncontrollably, which is quite a common problem in Priorat.

Returning to the winery, we went through the house situated in the lower area of the same Clos where the boys spent many years with their parents, playing, learning and working on the estate where they now create their wines.

Once in the winery, we started tasting the different Clos Mogador wines. Nelin 2016, still with a little sugar left to ferment, has quite a lot of energy. He loves white wines from Priorat, like the great white Burgundian wines from the South, or those from Ródano. It ferments in the barrel for eight months and is then decanted into a stainless steel tanks where it finishes refining.

Manyentes has an uncommon energy and a rural character to fall in love with. This Cariñena refines in used barrels and has great potential for a long life ahead of it.

The philosophy of Clos Mogador wine is to capture the estate and the vintage in a wine. A combined fermentation of varieties to which they try not to add yeast or sulphur during fermentation so that the vineyard can express itself freely. This wine unites all the varieties and ages planted in Clos to make this estate wine (‘vino de finca’). A concentrated 2016 vintage, in the classic Priorat style.

We move on to another room where he makes wines with his wife Sara Pérez, Partida Bellvisos. Fudres, demijohns, different sized barrels, a large quantity of tanks with which they experiment by tasting and refining the wines year after year. The wines are made without adding any oenological products. The rosé that they are making now will stay in our minds for years to come.

After the morning in Clos Mogador, the day was extended a little longer in Venus la Universal (Montsant) with Sara Pérez and some friends. Tasting wines, eating and sharing.

A great day, they showed us that they are just as excited about learning and making wine as the generation before them, in this special corner of the planet, Priorat and Priorat wines.

Escrito en Priorat, Sin categoría, Wineries | Tagged , , , |

10 wines for Valentine’s Day (or a romantic evening)

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We have chosen some wines for you so that you only have to worry about the important things on a day like this. Eat, drink, and enjoy it to the fullest.

If you like rosé wine, what better than La Rosa from Vins de Terrer, a delicate wine made with Pinot Noir from Penedès. If you like to pair food with rosé wine, then be a bit cheeky (pícaro) with this Pícaro del Águila Clarete. And if you prefer elegant and exclusive rosés, here is a limited edition made by Marqués de Murrieta Primer Rosé.

For a romantic evening, a bottle of tempting, delightful bubbles is essential. A rosé cava made with Pinot Noir from a flagship Cava winery, such as this Gramona Argent Rosé, is perfect for sharing with a partner. If you like svelte sparkling wines, Sumarroca makes this Nuria Claverol to add a seductive touch to the evening. Recaredo provides a serious note, so if you’re both lovers of great cavas, this Recaredo Brut de Brut Serrat del Vell is your choice. If we move on to the Champagne region, an excellent luxury wine is Veuve Clicquot Carte Jaune.

If you like the sweet stuff, we have chosen two wines for you that go perfectly with your last caramelised mouthfuls. A Chardonnay made in Navarra by Chivite Colección 124 vendimia tardía or Victoria Número 2, a Moscatel made in the Malagan mountains. And if chocolate is your poison, what better to accompany it than Colosía Pedro Ximénez?

Enjoy this Valentine’s Day (and every day) with a lot of love and a lot of wine.

Escrito en Special Occasions | Tagged , , , , |

New wines for February 2017

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We have prepared a few joys in wine form to help you bear a month like February, a pretty dull month, in general. For that reason, we have included some new winemakers as well as new vintages of tasty wines. What are you waiting for?

Artífice Listán Blanco 2015: Borja Pérez is the maker (‘artífice’) behind this new project. After launching his winery, Ignios, into stardom, he has kept it small and creates these new wines in the same area in Tenerife, with the same philosophy. These wines are seeking the area’s most mineral side, like this wine made with the native grape variety, Listán blanco.

Ollos de Roque 2014: Yago Garrido makes this original wine. A young winemaker who firmly believes in the power of the undersoil. He uses biodynamic techniques and native varieties from Ribeiro to create this direct and saline wine.

Albariño Do Ferreiro 2016: A classic (one of the greats) within Rias Baixas. Gerardo Méndez is launching his core range to the market, made with the Albariño variety from the  winery’s youngest strains. A vibrant white wine without make-up (natural).

Bàrbara Forés El Quintà 2015: This single variety Garnacha Blanca has become a model in the Terra Alta. Made by Bàrbara Forés in Gandesa, this wine ferments in 500 litre barrels to provide a greater complexity. An opulent wine with great potential for ageing.

Botijo Rojo Garnacha 2014: This winery was founded by three restless winemakers from Zaragoza in search of the lost roots of the Garnacha variety, and in an attempt to escape the area’s overripe wines. Along with Escocés Volante, this winery is on its way to becoming an icon in Aragón.

Muradella Tinto 2012: We are delighted to introduce one of the the most authentic winemakers in Spain, José Luis Mateo, back into our catalogue. Settled in Galicia, in remote DO Monterrei, this modest man makes genuine wines in his 14 hectare Quinta (estate) planted with native varieties. This Muradella is made with the Garnacha Tintorera, Bastardo, Mencía and Mouratón varieties. Tasty and long-lasting.

12 Volts 2015: This is the new vintage of 4 Kilos’ youngest wine, one of our favourite wineries in Mallorca. We always sense something new, and year after year, Francesc and Sergi keep adding new formulas to make 12 Volts more and more appetising to drink. A great choice.

Peña Caballera 2014: Once again, we have the new vintage of this great plot planted with Garnacha. This is one of the highest vineyards planted by Marañones on degraded granitic soils. A light and vibrant wine that will delight Garnacha lovers.

Viña Real Gran Reserva 2010: A classic within Rioja. This Viña Real, made up of mainly Tempranillo with a little Graciano to lend energy and longevity, in a great vintage, 2010.

Clos Lentiscus Sumoll Reserva Familiar Blanc de Noirs 2013: The genius Manel returns with the new vintage of one of their current sparkling wines. The Sumoll grape, planted in the Garraf massif, is vinified like a white wine and converted into a bubbly. All based on biodynamic agriculture and with minimum intervention in the winery.

Escrito en New wines, News | Tagged , , , , , , , |

Tim Atkin and his vision of Rioja

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Tim Atkin is a renowned Master of Wine and an important critic in the English market. An expert and aficionado of la Rioja, last year he started a list, grouping winemakers according to quality criteria. The origins of this classification come from France, particularly Bourdeaux in 1855, when Emperor Napoleon III ordered the creation of a classification system for the best wines for the World Exposition in Paris in the same year.

This is the second year that he has published the rating with the following results:

tim ingles



For 2017, Atkin has placed Marqués de Murrieta as the outstanding winery. He has also named Maria Vargas as the best oenologist of the year and Marqués de Murrieta Ygay Blanco 1986 as the best white wine. The best red wine is Las Beatas 2014 by Compañía de Vinos Telmo Rodríguez.

His breakthrough wines of the year, El Sacramento 2014 for the reds, and Remírez de Ganuza Reserva 2009 for the whites, are the best awarded.

Regarding winery ratings, we would highlight the following:

In the first category are Abel Mendoza (which we visited recently) and Bodegas y Viñedos Atuke, another small winery situated in Rioja Alavesa. The classic large wineries can also be found here, such as Tondonia, Remelluri and La Rioja Alta.

In the second are situated Valenciso, Peña el Gato, Castillo de Cuzcurrita and Tentenublo, small wineries alongside big names such as Palacios Remondo and CVNE.

In the third, Olivier Rivière, Pedro Balda and Exopto share this category with wineries such as Baigorri and Hermanos Peciña.

In the fourth category, legendary wineries such as Beronia and Bodegas Bilbainas can be found with Gomez Cruzado (a reinvented winery) and new winemakers like Oxer Bastegieta.

And in the fifth, we find wineries that have been established in La Rioja for years, such as LAN, Baron de Ley and Luis Alegre, and other newly emerged wineries led by young souls and entrepreneurs like Laventura and Compañon Arrieta.

We will see how this rating develops over the years.

Escrito en News, Wine news | Tagged , , |

The resurrection of the Garnacha

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From January, we are going to include articles in the blog that focus on the grape varieties inhabiting our vineyards. We will start with one of the most planted varieties in Spain and currently one of the most versatile, the Garnacha.

Originating from Aragón and spread by the Crown of Aragón from the Ebro River to the Ródano River, the Garnacha has been proclaimed one of the reigning varieties of the Mediterranean climate. Since its origin, it has been transformed and turned into Peluda, Tintorera and in its white form, the Garnacha Gris and Blanca.

In the modern era for Spanish wine, we have lived through two significant moments regarding this variety. The first of these was in the eighties, when the Tempranillo grape and other foreign varieties ousted the Garnacha and other minority native varieties. During this decade, wines produced with this grape were crude, wooden, sweet and standardised (based on modern wines produced outside of Europe) and above all, they did not identify with the territory. As a consequence, hectares of crops were reduced.

In 1989, a generation that was well-travelled in the world of winemaking landed in Priorat’s dizzying slate ‘costers’, and there the resurgence of the Garnacha variety began. Álvaro Palacios, Rene Barbier (Clos Mogador), Daphne Glorian (Clos Erasmus) and Jose Luis Peréz (Clos Martinet), together with local Carles Pastrana (Clos del Obac), started restoring the area’s vineyards, including the Garnacha plots. They applied all of their knowledge acquired in the large European winemaking areas such as Bourdeaux, Burgundy and Ródano, and Priorat became a type of laboratory from which great wines were being produced, including L’Ermita, by Álvaro Palacios, the best example of a single-variety Garnacha made in Priorat.

In another area of Spain’s geography, in the Sierra de Gredos mountains (the central system), there were old, forgotten Garnacha vineyards. Telmo Rodríguez, a winemaker with a wealth of experience, started to vinify the area’s Garnacha grapes in 1999. Later, he united a batallion of young winemakers, Comando G, Marañones, Bernabeleva etc…, travelled around the most important wine-making areas and discovered the area’s potential. As well as the events taking place in Priorat in the eighties, they started to experiment with the variety until they found the current predominant style. Wines produced from Garnacha grapes with a refinement recognised on an international level.

Due to the media attention that these two regions have generated globally, other areas have been revived, such as Rioja (particularly the lower part, which has more Mediterranean influence, Palacios Remondo, Costumbres), Navarra (where the Garnacha was formerly the main variety in the area and beautifully interpreted by Viña Zorzal), and unsurprisingly, the variety’s native land, Aragón (where Escoces Volante and Bodegas Frontonio are again producing wines, just as the Garnacha grape deserves – excellent).

  • Garnachas de España

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    Garnachas de España

    Here we offer you a selection of Grenache wines produced in different regions. Depending on the zone and the producer, different wine profiles are found, from the fruitiest and lighter to the most structured and complex.

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Abel Mendoza, the word of a winemaker.

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Abel mendoza

Last Thursday, 5th January, we visited Abel Mendoza, a small but great wine producer located in San Vicente de la Sonsierra, La Rioja. It was not the best day to see him; there was a lot of work to be done in the winery since the Jarrarte 2016 had to be ready to be bottled. But even so, he squeezed us in to explain his vision for wine and the environment that surrounds it, La Rioja.

Abel Mendoza is a man of the vineyard. His wines are honest, just as they claim to be, marked by his many years of experience. Abel is a genuine wine-maker in La Rioja and a great defender of the land.

He owns 17 hectares, which are worked ecologically and located in the surroundings of San Vicente de la Sonsierra. He cultivates native varieties in different plots: Tempranillo, Garnacha and Graciano among the red varieties, and Tempranillo Blanco, Malvasía, Garnacha Blanca, Viura and Torrontés among the white. The majority of the vineyard is planted on goblet-trained vines. This year, he planted a plot on trellises as an experiment, although he will not do so again as he didn’t like the results. As he said, if you don’t try it, you can’t have an opinion. A key principle in his philosophy.

The winery, built in 1988, has several typical concrete tanks where they make their carbonic maceration wine, Jarrarte. They also have stainless steel tanks for conventional fermentations and a few French oak barrels to make white wines and to age reds.

With these two components, the vineyard and the winery, Abel starts to create. There are no established rules in the vineyard and, like a good wine-maker, he wanders around the vineyard, observing, analysing the climate and then acting: pruning, fertilising and applying (ecological) treatments etc., whatever will give the character of the vintage to each and every wine. In the winery, they do not use interventionist processes, although this doesn’t mean that they don’t investigate different vinifications and blends.

Abel is a defender of traditional production methods, and carbonic maceration was the first in the area, a long time before French teachings arrived. The Jarrarte Maceración Carbónica is his favourite wine, with which he identifies the most, a wine to enjoy drinking. We were able to try the new vintage from the tank, and truthfully, this wine is very pleasant, tasty and fruity.

The single-variety native white varieties are another great investment. He has planted them on different soils and vinifies them separately in barrels, where they ferment and are aged for a period of time. This is a reference to his passion for Burgundy, but with a very good result. Each variety is expressed wonderfully, Tempranillo Blanco = body, Malvasía = aromas, Garnacha Blanca = body and bitterness, Viura = integrity, Torrontés = salinity. All of these wines possess an enormous depth.

Grano a Grano is another special range (the care with which they treat the grapes when they enter the winery is impressive). Relatives and friends meet to peel the grapes by hand and the berry stays intact so it can begin intracellular fermentation. It is the same as carbonic maceration, but without the stems, which lends it very good refinement. After fermentation, the wine is aged for a few months in barrels which gives it good complexity.

All in all, this was a short visit. It was a true pleasure to listen to Abel and the way in which he defends things, with the facts. This is a model that can coexist in the large wineries as well as the small ones, in an environment where more and more wineries have greater production and less affinity for the different landscapes that exist in the territory. He is a dreamer with his feet planted firmly on the ground, concerned about the future surrounding him.

Thank you very much for the visit, Abel, Grano a Grano will achieve great things.

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