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Abel Mendoza Graciano Grano y Grano, Rioja 2013

Red Wine from Spain - Rioja
Amongst Rioja's finest expressions of the graciano grape. Grower Abel Mendoza's meticulous attention to detail in the vineyard shines through in the clarity, harmony and purity of this wine. With notes of blueberry and liquorice, this is a sublime Rioja marked by graciano's tell-tale freshness.
is no longer available
Code: SP12071

Wine characteristics

  • Red Wine
  • Medium-bodied
  • Graciano
  • 13.5% Alcohol
  • Oak used but not v. noticeable
  • Now to 2028
  • 75cl
  • Cork, natural

Rioja

Rioja sits shielded in northern Spain between the mountain ranges of the Sierra de Cantabria to the north and the Sierra de la Demanda to the south. Both of these rocky ranges play their part in creating a suitable climate for the production of fine wines, shielding the region from cold winds from the Atlantic and hot winds from the Mediterranean.

Rioja is split into three sub-regions, Rioja Alavesa, Rioja Alta and Rioja Baja.

Rioja Alavesa - Bounded in the north by the craggy Sierra de la Cantabria and in the south by the Ebro river, and sitting in the foothills of the former, Rioja Alavesa feels a distinct Atlantic influence on its weather, despite the protection of the mountains. It has twice the rainfall of Rioja Baja to the south-east and enjoys cooler temperatures on average. The classic Rioja mainstay tempranillo is king here and makes up more than 80% of plantings, supported by garnacha, mazuelo (aka carignan elsewhere) and graciano for red wines, and viura, malvasia and...

Rioja sits shielded in northern Spain between the mountain ranges of the Sierra de Cantabria to the north and the Sierra de la Demanda to the south. Both of these rocky ranges play their part in creating a suitable climate for the production of fine wines, shielding the region from cold winds from the Atlantic and hot winds from the Mediterranean.

Rioja is split into three sub-regions, Rioja Alavesa, Rioja Alta and Rioja Baja.

Rioja Alavesa - Bounded in the north by the craggy Sierra de la Cantabria and in the south by the Ebro river, and sitting in the foothills of the former, Rioja Alavesa feels a distinct Atlantic influence on its weather, despite the protection of the mountains. It has twice the rainfall of Rioja Baja to the south-east and enjoys cooler temperatures on average. The classic Rioja mainstay tempranillo is king here and makes up more than 80% of plantings, supported by garnacha, mazuelo (aka carignan elsewhere) and graciano for red wines, and viura, malvasia and garnacha blanca for whites. Chalk and clay soils proliferate. Generally, the wines of Rioja Alavesa are considered the most finely balanced of Rioja reds.

Rioja Alta - Elegant reds are considered the hallmark of Alta wines. A great chunk of the major producers are based in Rioja Alta, concentrated on the town of Haro. Warmer and a bit drier than Alavesa, it also enjoys slightly hotter, more Mediterranean influenced summers and has a range of clay based soils. The reddish, iron rich clays provide a nurturing home for tempranillo while those bearing a chalkier element support the white viura well. Alluvial soils closer to the river are often home to malvasia for blending in to whites. In this area mazuelo is a regular addition to Rioja blends, providing some tannic sinew and beefing up the colour, and the reds here will often take a more significant underpinning of oak.

Rioja Baja - Most of Rioja Baja is south of the Ebro and further south and east of its neighbouring sub-regions. Summers in Rioja Baja are more often than not very warm and dry, with vineyards at lower elevations than its neighbours. Consequently soils are predominantly silt and other alluvial deposits with little chalk present, and garnacha reigns supreme among the red varieties because of its ability to deal almost effortlessly with the heat. As a rule, reds from Baja are higher in alcohol and less elegant than in Alavesa and Alta, though of course there are always exceptions and particularly so as viticulture and winemaking improves with every passing year.

RIOJA CLASSIFICATIONS AND STYLES EXPLAINED

The official Rioja classification is a guarantee of the amount of ageing a wine has undergone. Usually the best wines receive the longest maturation but this does not guarantee quality, which is why it is just as important to follow producer.

Crianza: Minimum two years (with at least 12 months in barrel)
Reserva: Minimum three years (at least 12 months in barrel)
Gran Reserva: Minimum five years (at least 24 months in barrel)

What can be confusing is that producers use different ageing techniques (for example some might use American oak, others French, others a mix of both) which will influence the style, structure and flavour of the wine. To help you find the style you like we have split the wines into the following designations.

Traditional: Fragrant, silky wines from long ageing in cask (usually American oak) and bottle; ready to drink on release.

Modern-classical: Younger, rounder wines that retain the delicious character of Rioja through cask ageing (often a mix of American and French oak) with the structure to develop in bottle.

Modern: Richer, velvety wines aged for less time in newer (usually) French oak; released earlier and may need keeping.

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Abel Mendoza

For two generations Abel Mendoza's family has been farming vineyards in Rioja which are scattered throughout the commune of San Vicente de la Sonsierra (towards the border of Rioja Alta and Alavesa). More than anything in the world, Abel cares for his vineyards, each plot cared for independently and harvest done entirely by hand. The grapes planted are all indigenous including malvasia (a variety widely planted in Rioja in the 18th century), viura, tempranillo and graciano.

Abel is a perfectionist and has no ambition to seek the limelight, so he spends none of his energy (or money) on marketing, preferring to concentrate his efforts in the vineyards and winemaking. It means the wines remain relatively unknown here in the UK yet in Rioja his status is somewhat legendary.

His wines could be described as modern in style in that he uses only French oak and ages the wines for shorter periods than is traditional in Rioja. He produces both red and whites, ignores the local regulations of using age statements on the labels (eg reserva). The wines have a sophistication, complexity and breed that mark them out as one of the single finest producers in Rioja.

Spain Vintage 2013

Rioja had a difficult, challenging vintage. A cold spring developed into a summer interspersed with frequent rain. As a result there was much uneven ripening. However, things look promising as the harvest was protracted and the fruit that did ripen had plenty of time to do so, though hail at vintage time caused considerable damage (Contino picked just 10% of their crop). Those who picked before late rains made attractive, fresh and vibrant wines. Ribera del Duero had a cooler time of it over the growing season than is usual but in their case it led to good, even ripening across the board, with concentration and flavour being balanced by freshness and structure. In Priorato too, cooler conditions have led to wines with lovely fruit and freshness and the ability to age very well.
2013 vintage reviews

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