Méntrida, like other famous wine regions of La Mancha, is steeped in history. The vines here grow under bright blue Castilian skies in a landscape which enjoys spectacular views of the snowy mantle of the Sierra de Gredos. The character of the wines produced here, tough and honest, were always enjoyed by the Habsburg Dynasty in Madrid. That being said, a new generation of wine is emerging, albeit at a slower rate than other regions in Spain, renovating wineries with modern equipment with a generation of young winemakers who are producing pleasant and balanced wines, some have even managed to recover the local flavour of its wines using the classic earthenware jars, now appreciated and fashionable in other areas.
Historically, the region that today shelters the wines of the DO Méntrida was conceded during the Middle Ages, to certain jurisdictional lordships that took charge of the governments and carried out rapid repopulation. Poof of this are the references to vineyards that date back to the 12th century. The wine culture was thriving and reached its peak in the splendour during the Hasburg dynasty, where they were highly appreciated. In fact, during the fifteenth to nineteenth centuries, the main market for Méntrida wines was the city of Madrid though at the end of the 19th century wines were exported abroad and participated in international trade fairs, winning many awards. However, despite the fact that the designation of origin was established in 1976, the wines from this region took a fall during the 1980s. Despite this, since the early twenty-first century, wines from Méntrida have experienced a similar rebirth experienced by the neighbouring denominations as Madrid and La Mancha, albeit more slowly, and is beginning to show its potential of producing great and modern wines.
DO Méntrida is located in central Spain, in the northwest corner of the province of Toledo, and a mere 60 km from Madrid, bordering the provinces of Avila and Madrid. To the east, the DO Méntrida lies at the foot of the stunning Sierra de Gredos. This area is crossed by the lower reaches of the Alberche river and some villages connected to wine and its history are distributed around it: Almorox, Escalona, Maqueda, Fuensalida, Camarena, Casarrubios del Monte and Méntrida itself. D.O Méntrida is currently comprised of 51 municipalities and is home to around 9,000 hectares of registered vineyards, where over 1,500 wine growers and about 30 wineries (half a dozen of which are cooperatives) operate.
Climate, Soils and Varieties.
The region is home to a Continental Mediterranean climate, dry and extreme. The climate is characterised by extreme temperature variations and low rainfall, with annual average rainfall between 300-450mm. The persistence and intensity of rainfall is associated with south-westerly winds, concentrated between two seasons: March to May and September to November, the first more prominent.
DO Méntrida spans a small growing area located in the northwest corner of Toledo. In the south of the denomination the vines grow on the north bank of the River Tagus and one of its tributaries. The terrain is almost flat, and these rivers have altered the landscape forming ravines and valleys with gentle slopes. The soils are are sandy-clay and reddish-brown, based on clay and limestone. They are poor in organic matter, but retain water well. Very close to the Sierra de San Vicente, the area is more rugged and home to sandier soils. Altitudes range from 200 to 500 meters above sea level.
The main variety of Méntrida is the Garnacha, representing 80% of the vineyards used for Méntrida wines. The region is home to other varieties such as Tempranillo Cencibel or, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Petit Verdot and a small proportion of white grapes Albillo, Macabeo, Verdejo, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Wines and Wineries
Currently in the region there are great efforts to decline the production and export of bulk wine, encouraging the increase of bottled wines. The region is dominated by large cooperatives, some of which have begun to consider new production methods, replacing the use of old clay pots for modern stainless steel tanks to achieve a shorter and cleaner Maceration area. They are introducing temperature controlled fermentation to preserve the primary aromas of the grapes, as well as holding more importance to the cultivation techniques used, harvesting at the ideal maturity date to achieve more moderate alcohol content. Although some white and rosés are produced, reds still dominate the region, which are uniquely rich in tannins and colour, very fruity and tasty to the palate with a palate not overly warm.
The Verdosa, best known for its range of wines under the Arrayan label, is a sign of modernity. It began as the personal project of businessman Jose Maria Entrecanales and Mary Marsans on his farm "La Verdosa" in Santa Cruz del Retamar, Toledo, home to over 26 hectares of vineyards. The wines produced here are made using innovative wine-growing techniques that are perfectly integrated into the ecosystem of the Mediterranean pasture. La Verdosa produces high quality wines with personality, together with the Australian expert Richard Smart, who conducted a comprehensive study of the most favourable relief, soil, climate, location, orientations and varieties suited to the project. In 1999 he began planting Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Petit Verdot, with the first harvest being placed onto the market in late 2003. Since then, the family wine Arrayán has grown to tell, today with an excellent line composed of four red wines aged in oak, two of them monovarietales and two blends of the four varieties: Arrayán Selection and Arrayán Premium - as well as the Arrayán Rosado.
Jimenez Landi is a project led by Jose Benavides Jiménez-Landi, founded in 2004, with the sole aim of producing wines based on respect for the environment, for tradition and a balance with the earth. The winery holds the belief that nature offers its best wines when grown with respect and let to grow natural. Therefor the 27-hectares of vineyards owned by the winery are cultivated using organic agriculture techniques and biodynamic practices. The winery works almost exclusively with the Grenache grape variety, under their labels Bajondillo, Sotorrondero, Piélago and Ataulfos. Also in the village of Real de San Vicente, the winery has a 5 hectare vineyard of old Grenache vines aged between 40 and 70 years, located between 750 and 850 meters above sea level above granitic sandy soils of siliceous origin. It works on small plots, following organic farming.
Bodegas Canopy is a young winery founded with a passion for rediscovering the historical homeland of the Méntrida. The winery was founded back in 2004 when Belarmino Fernández and Alfonso Chacón, two winemakers and friends who were professionals in the wine, business and hospitality industry, decided to unite their passions in the project the began in 2003 when its founded began to search for possible vineyards to start the project. The three partners looked for old Grenache and Syrah vines and new Syrah vines, thinking of wines whose identity come from the vineyard, practicing organic viticulture and maximum respect for the grape. The winery is currently home to 19 hectares of vineyards, where they make their labels Tres Patas, varietal Grenache, Malpaso, a single varietal Syrah, La viña Escondida, varietal Grenache, Congo and Kaos.
Daniel Landi Viciultor. After leading the project of the winery Jiménez Landi, he decided in 2012 to embark on a new adventure, this time alone. He decided to embark on the great adventure of recovering old family and abandoned vineyards to produce wines that were a pure reflection of the land and the vines. Working with smallholdings of Grenache on slate, sandy and granite soils. One of the most emblematic labels produced by the winery is Las Uvas de la Ira, born from 1.5 hectares of Grenache vineyards located in the Sierra de Gredos, using vines that are over 70 years old, located 550 – 800 metres above sea level. This wine is aged for 16 months in 500litre French oak barrels, followed by another 16 months in oak barrels. Another wine produced by the winery is Cantos del Diablo, where the juice undergoes fermentation at controlled temperatures in French oak vats, and ages in oak 1,500 litre oak foudres and a 500 litre barrel for 14 months. El Reventón, another wine produced by the winery, is made using grapes from 70 year old vines. The grapes are grown on a vineyard situated 950 metres above sea level with an east facing orientation. This wine is also aged for 14 months in oak fudres. All in all, the wines produced by this winery are not only a true expression of the Grenache grape variety, but also the character of Daniel Landi.