the spanish aquisition

Enrique Mendoza, D.O. Alicante

D.O. Alicante encompasses 37,000 acres divided into two sub-regions in Alicante province: there is a coastal strip, right on the Mediterranean, the best product of which is Moscatel del Mar. The Monastrell part is inland an hour or so. This part of Alicante is high altitude (up to 1000m), very dry poor soils, hot by day, freezing by night – extreme viticulture and perfectly suited to Monastrell. Along with adjacent Yecla (and to an extent the lesser Jumilla further inland), this is the home of the variety, from which it spread around the Mediterranean and into France.

Enrique Mendoza is the family patriarch’s name, the winemaker is Pepe Mendoza and the business is run by his brother Julian. Bodegas Enrique Mendoza produce Moscatels del Mar as well as Monastrell, but is in fact most concerned with growing French varieties in Spain. Odd, but there you go … in fact, their French stuff is very good – Pepe is an outstanding winemaker – but for us, the stuff that’s interesting and relevant is outstanding old vine Monastrell. Here, we have the original clones of the variety, and which give a somewhat fresher-juicier wine suited to straight varietal bottling; also, there remain patches of old material on ‘PieFranco’ or French feet … ie, ungrafted, pre-phylloxera stuff more or less suited to the Noah’s ark myth!

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