2018 Rioja Blanco 5 Varietals, Abel Mendoza, Rioja, Spain

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Modest and passionate about his vineyards, Abel and his wife Maite have been making understated wines in San Vicente since 1988.

Lying in the shadow of the Sierra Cantabria, Abel has vineyards in the finest parts of the Alavesa. His knowledge and understanding of the soils is enthralling and to taste in his cellar can be an education on the effects different soils have in different years. He wants only to express the fruit and the soil and unlike many Riojans, he leaves it more or less at that. He does not want to stamp the wines with any particular style or mark of his own other than his respect for the very natural quality of the grapes and for the magical places that they were grown.

Harvest is carried out by hand, each plot and each variety individually at optimum ripeness. One of Abel's specialties is the vinification of the traditional white Rioja varietals separately in new oak barrels.

'The white blend 2018 5V was cropped from a year that saw hail, mildew and botrytis. It's a blend of Viura, Malvasía, Garnacha Blanca, Torrontés and Tempranillo Blanco that fermented in French oak barrels, where it matured with the fine lees and bâtonnage. In 2018, they used more Malvasía, then Viura, Garnacha Blanca, Torrontés and only a touch of Viura. The aim is harmony and balance, and this one seems like one of the most balanced and harmonious vintages, austere and subtle. But if the nose can feel a little shy, the palate is an explosion—it has electricity and feels vibrant and elegant, with very clean and focused flavors, pure and precise. This should develop nicely in bottle. 4,145 bottles produced. It was bottled in April 2019.' LG, 95 Points (Robert Parker's Wine Advocate).