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Abel Mendoza, Spain

Modest, passionate and in no small part obsessive, Abel Mendoza and Maite Fernández have been making understated wines from their old vine vineyards, high up in the Cantabrian mountains near San Vicente de la Sonsierra since the late 80s.

His intimate knowledge of the diverse terroirs in this spectacular part of Rioja is enthralling, and every barrel tasted reveals startling provenance and true character of the vintage. Abel doesn’t make wines that flatter, they don’t speak of oak regimes, but rather of the quality of his fruit, expressed in its most honest form.


For two generations Abel Mendoza's family has been farming vineyards in Rioja, and today works 37 individual parcel, scattered in and around the village 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 tended to enable an authentic expression of the location, and harvested entirely by hand. The grapes planted are all indigenous varietals, including Malvasia, Viura, Tempranillo Blanco and Tinto and Graciano.


His wines could be described as modern in style in that he uses only French oak and ages the wines for shorter periods than is traditional in Rioja. He produces both red and whites, ignores the local regulations of using age statements on the labels (such as Crianza or Reserva). Abel and his wines have a sophistication and refinement that mark them out as one of the finest producers in Rioja and also one of the region’s best kept secrets.

  • Undeniably one of Rioja’s top white wine producers, but also producing beautiful, understated reds of impeccable finesse and quality.
  • With an attention to his vineyards verging on an obsession. Sustainability and living vineyards are at the heart of his philosophy.
  • Awarded ‘Winemakers of the Year’ by Tim Atkin MW in his Rioja Report 2015 … with other notable winners including Jorge Muga and Telmo Rodríguez.