Abel Mendoza is a man of the land. His philosophy is simple and that is to make wines that are as transparent as possible. He is not a showman but a humble farmer who tends to the needs of more than 18 hectares of vineyards around the town of San Vicente de La Sonsierra, an area locally known for growing some of the best Tempranillo grapes in all of Rioja. Abel comes from a great heritage of wine growers or cosecheros, as they are locally known. Following the tradition of his forefathers, Abel proudly carries on the practice of growing grapes with minimal intervention—no chemicals, no gimmicks, no tricks. He is as transparent as the wines that he and his wife Maite laboriously produce from vintage to vintage. A deep respect for the land and devotion to his craft is what sets Abel's wines apart from the "test tube" wines produced all over the world. Rioja’s name has been made on the export market with the oaky style brought to the region by Bordeaux winemakers during the 19th century. But what most people don’t know is that vino de cosechero, a fresh and lively wine made by carbonic maceration, pre-dates the oak-aged style and is still produced and appreciated by the locals today.
Abel names his cuvées after the soil types found in his vineyards. The Pedregoso cuvée (pedregoso translates to stony soil) is fermented in whole clusters in partial carbonic maceration in cement tanks, and then raised in cement tanks for 8 months. This vinification process creates a wine with incredible character driven by nuances of fresh red fruit, mineral and touches of dried herbs. A pure pleasure to drink, Pedregoso is the perfect red to help you transition into spring. Medium bodied, structured, earthy and jovial fruit makes this wine one of my favorites for spring. So join me in discovering and drinking more vinos cosecheros.
I find that simple food and wine pairings are most satisfying come springtime so I highly recommend pairing this wine with grilled chistorra sausage, a Basque-style pork sausage seasoned with local herbs and spices. Chistorra sausage is tender, juicy and full of flavors. Serve with grilled bread slightly brushed with olive oil. ¡Salud!