“Full disclosure: I tried five years of Volver’s Triga at an on-site wine tasting, and because it was so good that I drained each glass (for research, of course), my notes got a little weird. If we’re going to choose favorites, the 2012 was the absolute best, followed by the 2013—but at $40-plus, they’re a little more of a splurge. The 2014, even though it’s a little younger and not quite as developed as the older vintages, was still exceptional and manages to fall within budget. Made with monastrell and cabernet grapes, this wine brings a strong whiff of chocolate (yum) before serving up licorice and dark fruit (think ripe, juicy blackberries). The rest of my tipsy notes say, “insanely good. Stop being this good."
“Deep, lurid ruby. Displays highly perfumed, mineral-tinged aromas of ripe red berries, cherry liqueur, incense and exotic spices. Juicy, focused and energetic on the palate, offering gently sweet raspberry and cherry-cola flavors accompanied by white pepper and licorice flourishes. A floral quality emerges on an impressively long, penetrating finish, that's framed by gentle, even tannins.”
“Old-vine Monastrell from the high vineyards of Alto Vinalopó. Full of suppressed energy, this is a joyous wine full of ripe fruit softened by six months in French oak. Enrique Mendoza is a cheerleader for the great wines and traditions of Alicante.”
“The blend of the 2014 Reserva Santa Rosa has changed to include Monastrell, and in this vintage, it's 35% each Monastrell and Cabernet Sauvignon with 15% each of Merlot and Shiraz. This is the first time they have changed this wine in 25 years. The grapes are grown at their Chaconero estate vineyards in the village of Villena. The wine fermented at 28 degrees Celsius with short daily pump overs and a post fermentative maceration of 12 days. It matured in their cellars in Alfaz del Pi in new French oak barrels for 16 months. It felt more Mediterranean, very balsamic and super tasty in the palate, without any herbal aromas, round and juicy, with round tannins and balsamic flavors of thyme and rosemary. They hope to keep this new blend for the next 25 years!”
“The 2014 Las Quebradas is pure Monastrell is named after the vineyard it comes from—a chalk-rich, stony vineyard with very poor soils, located at 500 meters altitude and planted with 1,500 vines per hectare, all dry-farmed and head-pruned. It matured in French oak barrels for 15 months. It has the calcaire character, very much about the soil. 2014 is a ripe year, but they work in the vineyard to be able to harvest the grapes earlier, and the wine has beautiful balance. It has already developed some aromas, and even if it’s still young and should develop further in bottle, it is already very pleasant and shows complexity.”
In “Spain’s Greatest Hits,” Anya von Bremzen pens a feature on where to find the best paella, gazpacho, empanadas, and tortillas in Spain. For paella, she recommends venturing to Chef María’s José San Román’s Michelin-starred Monastrell in Alicante. Alongside the chef’s Chicken and Pork Paella recipe, Bremzen suggests pairing it with BODEGAS ENRIQUE MENDOZA La Tremenda 2014.
In “20 Wines under $17 for 2017:”
BODEGAS ENRIQUE MENDOZA La Tremenda 2014
“If there’s a fitting example at just how much wine you can get for your dollar from Spain, this is it. Mendoza’s entry level Monastrell, offers a high bang for the buck and emphasis on bright fresh fruit flavors and aromas. The wine comes from thirty year old vines at an elevation of two thousand feet. The wine spent six months in neutral American oak barrels (used two to three times) and the resulting wine offers aromas of cola, baking spice and dusty ripe raspberry. The palate is lively, fresh and loaded with red fruit, tobacco and cocoa nibs. What an incredible bargain.”
Bodegas Enrique Mendoza - Wine Advocate
“Vintages have gone very fast and the 2014 Estrecho will be released at the end of 2016. I visited this sandy, tremendously dry Monastrell vineyard, "Estrecho de Pipa" with Pepe Mendoza and could see how the plants struggle to live in such poor soils and with the shortage of rain they've had in the region in the last few years. It's possible because the roots of the old vines must have gone very deep and are able to sustain the plant even in such conditions. Mendoza designed some square oak vats where this wine fermented quite softly, with some manual punching down of the cap. There was a post-fermentative maceration of some 15-18 days. The wine matured in used 500-liter French oak barrels for some 15 months. This is so insultingly young and undeveloped, with all the baby fat still to be rendered that it feels like an infanticide to drink it any time soon. It has a transparent ruby color and a transparency towards the fine sandy soils with an aristocratic, elegant twist. It feels terribly balanced and harmonious, even if the oak is a little too obvious at the moment and I think the oaking could be fine tuned. But having seen the vineyard and how the older vintages have developed in bottle I have no doubt this will make a superb bottle of Mediterranean Monastrell, even better if you have the patience to wait a year or two. This could very well be the finest Estrecho to date, very much in line with the superb 2010.”
“There is no Quebradas in 2012 (too dry) or in 2013 (hail) and the next one will be the 2014 but it won't be released until late into 2017. So I only tasted two Monastrell bottlings, starting with the 2014 La Tremenda, the entry-level cuvée from different vineyards in the surroundings of their estate El Chaconero in the village of Villena. In 2010 they started producing Fondillón, the sweet Monastrell from the zone, so the riper bunches from these vineyards are kept for the Fondillón, which has had an effect on the dry Monastrell wines: more freshness and less overripe notes. This wine has six months in used 500-liter barrels and a variable time in vat, between six months and one year. The 2014 feels very tender, it has the esparto grass austerity of the stony vineyards with the chalky soils and a myriad of Mediterranean herbs. They used some stems for the fermentation, which added a fine thread and makes it subtly textured. It has the dusty tannins and the saline tastiness of the limestone soils. It represents a superb value and a great introduction to the Monastrell from Alicante; the price is hard to believe.”