Pepe Mendoza, Giró de Abargues, DO Vinos Alicante, Spain, 2022
Pepe Mendoza is one of the most respected winemakers in southeast Spain, focusing on local and Mediterranean varieties, sourced from their own vineyards in the Alto Vinalopó region near Villena, and the coastal-influenced Marina Alta.
His latest project, Casa Agrícola is a personal project, created with his wife Pepa Agulló, to make high-quality wines from Monastrell, Syrah, Macabeo, Moscatel and Giró. With plantings dating back to 1923, vineyards are organically cultivated, dry-farmed on ancient terraces, and in tune with the climate of Alicante. Pepe refers to his entry levels wines as ‘landscape wines’, the white a delicious blend of Macabeo and Airen from Vinalopó, and Moscatel from Marina Alta, whilst the red is equal parts Monastrell, Giró and Garnacha Tintorera (aka Alicante Bouschet) from Alto Vinalopó. Pureza is skin contact Moscatel fermented in amphorae. With the pinnacle of the range, two single vineyard wines, El Veneno, a stunningly fresh expression of Monastrell sourced from the highest plots in Alto Vinalopó, and Abarques, which reflects the character of Giró and the Marina Alta location.
A unique variety, Giró, that since 1500 has united Alicante with Mallorca and Sardinia, the only other regions claiming to grow it. Sensitive to powdery mildew and very low yielding, it lost out in favour of more productive varieties. Yet today it is regarded as a treasure that must be taken care of. Vineyards are at Abargues and Pla Lliber at around 300 meters with a total vineyard area of 2.5 ha. Vines are around 75 years old. Goblet trained, dry farmed, organic vineyards on ancient soils formed during the Triasic period, with rivulets of iron (Terres Rosses) running through the calcareous stones.
For Pepe it is important to pick these high-potential grapes before they reach over-ripeness or become roasted by the sun, in order to reflect a fresher expression. Soft manual maceration with skins and 30% of stems, no pumping. Fermented with indigenous yeast in 1000l vats for 8-10 days. Pressing of the whole clusters. Lees contact and malolactic fermentation in oak barrels.
Type: French Oak 500L
% wine oaked: 100
% new oak: 100
This is a wonderful expression of the low hills, wet soils and shadowed woods of this region. A strong palate that shows the ferric soils and sanguine aromas, resulting in a wine with nobility and full of personality. Evident yet well-rounded tannins will allow this wine the ability to age beautifully.
A wine to pair with Iberian sausages and sheep cheeses, great with meat grills, lamb chops or long matured beef.
6 x 75cl
Award: Guia Penin 93 Points
Award: Robert Parkers The Wine Advocate 94+ Points