Enrique Mendoza Estrecho Monastrell 2006
Although Enrique Mendoza founded the winery in 1989, his son Pepe now runs the business, aided by his younger brother Julián. Pepe is responsible for vineyard management and winemaking, while Julián looks after the commercial side of the company. So well respected is Enrique Mendoza that it was inducted into the prestigious Grandes Pagos de España. This group’s mission is to defend and propagate the culture of “pago” wine, meaning wine produced in a specific terroir that reflects the distinct personality of the soil and climate. To become a member, a vineyard must surpass strict quality standards and also exhibit a degree of uniqueness in terms of soil, climate or grape variety that sets it apart from the surrounding area. The association’s membership includes 25 estate wineries throughout Spain. Bodegas Enrique Mendoza is located near the town of Alfàs Del Pi, about 45 miles from the city of Alicante, and is surrounded by breathtakingly landscaped gardens. Most of the vineyards are located near Villena at an average of 1200 feet elevation, with some parcels as high as 2100 feet. Traditional plantings include Monastrell and Moscatel, although recently Pepe has experimented with international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. The resulting wines are typically fermented in stainless steel and aged in French oak, with long maceration (up to 28 days). Natural farming is prioritized at Enrique Mendoza. Indigenous yeasts are used, and insecticides, herbicides and fertilizers are avoided in favor of biodynamic practices. Pepe also emphasizes placing his vines under the optimal level of hydric stress to produce small, concentrated grapes; he uses computerized sensors to monitors moisture levels in the vineyard, adjusting irrigation accordingly.
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.