Alto Moncayo Moncayo 2009
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
I gave perfect scores to the prodigious 2007 and 2009, two of the greatest expressions of old vine Grenache from the province of Aragon that anyone could have desire. The both possess plenty of black raspberry, blackberry, kirsch and licorice characteristics as well as an undeniable minerality and precision that are remarkable given their full-bodied, massive concentration and intensity. This was a great opportunity to look at one of the flagship wines of importer Jorge Ordonez’s portfolio. Alto Moncayo is a 100% old vine Grenache cuvee (900-1,000 cases produced depending on the vintage) that is a joint project between Jorge Ordonez and Barossa winemaker, Chris Ringland. Five generations of vignerons have farmed over 210 acres of primarily old vine Grenache at Alto Moncayo, a wine that is produced from incredibly low yields of 500 grams of grape bunches per vine. There are never more than six to eight bunches on these ancient head-pruned Grenache vines. The wine is fermented in open-top wood fermenters, and spends 19 months in 100% new oak prior to being bottled unfiltered. The fruit is all destemmed. I tasted these ten vintages of Alto Moncayo in September, and I was blown away by how well they were showing.
Bodegas Alto Moncayo is a winery located in the Campo de Borja D.O. It was founded in 2002 with the aim of turning it into a world reference for Garnacha wines of the highest quality, crafted from some of the oldest native vine clones in the area.The garnacha grape is one of the varieties that best expresses its terroir. Thus, the Garnacha of Alto Moncayo is different from the rest of the Campo de Borja D.O area. This is due to the very strict selection made from the vineyards, the type of soil in which it is grown, the microclimate, and the age of the vines. Located in Borja- the heart of the Campo de Borja DO . Vines are planted at the foothills of El Moncayo which is the highest point in the Iberian Mountain Range (2,315 m) and the winery's namesake. The region experiences a continental climate with hot summers and cold winters. Vineyards are planted on very unique soils of red clay (indicative of being rich in iron) mixed with red slate, and because of the hillside location are shallow and nutrient-deficient. The Garnacha grapes of Alto Moncayo undergo very strict vineyard selection, from vines planted as far back as the early 1900's through the 1970's. Only the most perfectly mature clusters are selected and carried in small crates to prevent crushing, where they are further sorted and selected at triage tables. Wines undergo malolactic fermentation in both French & American oak, and aged in new barrels between anywhere from 16-24 months. These practices, in combination with the unique microclimate of the area ensure superior quality Garnacha that is distinct from any other in the Campo de Borja D.O.
Known for its bold, heady, rustic and age-worthy red wines, Spain is truly a one-of-a-kind wine-producing nation. A great majority of the country is hot, arid and drought-ridden, and since irrigation has only been recently introduced and (controversially) accepted, viticulture has sustained—and flourished—only through a great understanding of Spain’s particular conditions. Large spacing between vines allows each enough resources to survive and as a result, the country has the most acreage under vine compared to any other country, but is usually third in production.
Most planted and respected is Tempranillo, the star of Spain’s Rioja and Ribera del Duero regions. Priorat specializes in bold red blends, Jumilla has gained global recognition for its single varietal Monastrell and Utiel-Requena has garnered recent attention for its reds made of Bobal.