In a nutshell: A classy and compelling biodynamic Rioja with a subtle and elegant oak character.
The lowdown: Abel Mendoza is one of the legendary winemakers of Rioja; he's a proper old school vigneron who cares passionately about his vineyards - which consist of many small plots scattered around the border of Rioja Alta and Alavesa. His wines are not stamped with any particular style, each wine conveys the individualities of the land and the year. This is a deeply coloured and very classy wine with a pure and intense bouquet of crushed fruits, spice and oak. An elegant and smooth full-bodied wine with real complexity and long length.
When to drink: Ripe and ready to drink thi sis great with pork, poultry, tomato sauce based pasta, and mushroom recipes.
Abel Mendoza founded his bodega in the town of San Vicente de la Sonsierra in the heart of Rioja with his enologist wife Maite in 1988.
They farm 18 hectares of vineyard and 37 different parcels themselves around San Vicente, in the shadow of the Sierra Cantabria, an area well-known for having some of the best vineyards in the area. 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 the magical places that they were grown. And to emphasise this he doesn't bother with conforming to the usual age statements (like reserva etc).
Preferring to let his wines do the talking he spends virtually no effort marketing the business and as a result goes somewhat under the radar especially in foreign markets. In Spain however he has developed something of a legendary status to those in the know.