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Some wines from Abel Mendoza

Show all 49 wines

Appellations Abel Mendoza

Definition Abel Mendoza

This is one of the smallest estates in Rioja.

Abel cares about the vines, and his spouse Maite about the winemaking.

A happy combination - this estate is one of the region's hidden jewels.

Their whites and reds are equally outstanding. The estate is located in San Vincente de la Sonsierra, in Rioja Alta, on the border with Rioja Alavesa.

History Abel Mendoza

Abel comes from a typical winegrowing family from La Rioja, which used to produce what is called “vino de cosechero”, often with the carbonic maceration method. This wine was sold in bulk and was supposed to be drunk within the year.

In 1988, Abel, 19, decided to bottle his own wine. Passionate about his vines, he wanted to valorise them differently than the neighbouring estates. In 1994, he chose to produce only quality wines. He was lucky: this was a very good vintage. Seeing the quality of the grapes, he decided to go further than a simple young wine. He bought barrels of French new oak. His family thought he had gone mad. But he knew what he wanted and soon, with the help of his wife Maite – an oenologist- he built himself a reputation as a wine producer.

The estate is small (20 hectares), but Abel only produces top wines, in white and red.

It is located in San Vicente de la Sonsierra, on the border between Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa. This is clearly the place for making great wines: Vega Sicilia is now building its Riojan winery there.

Abel tends his vines with constant care, like a gardener, and seeks low yields.

He does not use the Reserva and Gran Reserva standards as according to the Consejo Regulador, his cuvées are too tiny to guarantee a constant quality,which does not matter in the least for we know Abel and Maite produce some of the best wines in the whole region.

Varieties

First comes Tempranillo, with 17.5 hectares out of the estate’s 20.

These are 60 year-old vines from which Abel produces a juicy young wine – Jarrarte Joven – but also the Jarrarte, his flagship wine, and some top selections (Selección Personal and Grano a Grano). These four wines express different sides of Tempranillo – and its rich personality.

Abel and Maite work with other grapes as well, but in smaller volumes. But they still vinify them separately, which is quite unusual in Rioja.

As an example, they make a superb block wine out of 0.6 hectare of Graciano. Other examples are their Malvasía (0.6 ha), their Viura (0.5 ha), their Garnacha blanca (0.2 ha) and their Torrontés (0.2 ha).

Abel also makes a blend of Garnacha and Tempranillo blanco.

The whole vineyard is farmed in the integrated viticulture system. Chemicals are only used in case of absolute necessity.

Terroir

The 20 hectare estate is divided in 35 small blocks spread over the whole Sonsierra zone (Abalos, Labastida, San Vicente).

The soils are made of limestone and clay, mostly; but each block of vines has particular characteristics in terms of exposition, altitude, soil structure and texture. Some are stony, some are sandy. A few of them are on alluvial soils, full of rocks, and others still are on pebbles. The vines look north and south.

The Riojan climate is continental, with Atlantic and Mediterranean influences. But small vales and gentle slopes give birth to a lot of micro-climates The River Ebro, which flows though the who region, also plays a major role.

Winemaking

Winemaking methods vary according to the type of wine.

Jarrarte Joven is made with the carbonic maceration method, the Riojan way – that is to say, whole grapes are fermented in open concrete tanks.

For Jarrarte and Selección Personal, on the other hand, grapes are destalked and fermented in stainless steel tanks. Then they age in French oak barrels (already used for two wines) for some 12 months.

In the case of Grano a Grano, each grape berry is taken off the bunch and only the best berries are kept.

As regards the whites, all wines, including the Jarrarte Blanco Joven, stay on their lees and are subject to bâtonnage.

Monovarietal wines are fermented in new French oak barrels where they age for some 5 months.

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