Abel Mendoza, Graciano Garnacha Grano a Grano, DOCa Rioja, Spain, 2015
Modest and passionate about his vineyards, Abel and his wife Maite have been making understated wines in San Vicente since 1988.
Lying in the shadow of the Sierra Cantabria, Abel has vineyards in the finest parts of the Alavesa. His knowledge and understanding of the soils is enthralling and to taste in his cellar can be an education on the effects different soils have in different years. He wants only to express the fruit and the soil and unlike many Riojans, he leaves it more or less at that. He does not want to stamp the wines with any particular style or mark of his own other than his respect for the very natural quality of the grapes and for the magical places that they were grown.
For two generations Abel Mendoza's family has been farming vineyards in Rioja which are scattered throughout the commune of San Vicente de la Sonsierra (towards the border of Rioja Alta and Alavesa). More than anything in the world, Abel cares for his vineyards, each plot cared for independently and harvest done entirely by hand. The grapes planted are all indigenous including malvasia (a variety widely planted in Rioja in the 18th century), viura, tempranillo and graciano.
% wine oaked: 100
% new oak: 100
A bright red wine, cherry in colour. Highly aromatic with notes of spice, pepper, bluebbery and raspberry as well as some thyme and vanilla notes from the well integrated barrel aging. Unctious, enveloping and elegant the tannins are polished andfresh on the palate with excellent balance between the acidity and the fruit. Delicious.
Incredibly versatile, this wine works well with meats, fish, pasta and spicy foods.
Robert Parker 93 Points
There is a new "grano a grano" red blend of Graciano and Garnacha trying to combine two varieties that are almost antagonistic, first produced in 2015. The 2015 Graciano-Garnacha Grano a Grano is 60% Garnacha and the rest Graciano, made with grapes that were hand-destemmed. It fermented in small vats and matured in 500-liter French oak barrels, where the wine matured for 18 months. They wanted to ferment the two grapes at the same time; since Graciano is a late-ripening grape, the Garnacha is picked quite ripe, and the Graciano is the one in charge of compensating for the alcohol level and ripeness of the Garnacha with its acidity. Even if more Mediterranean and riper than the 2016 I tasted next to it, the 2015 keeps its poise and doesn't come through as too ripe. On the contrary, it feels quite balanced and fresh. Only 920 bottles of the 2015 were produced, and the wine was bottled in March 2017. LG, 93 Points, June 2019.
Garnacha Tinta 60%
6 x 75cl