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About the Wine Uncensored Episode

Maite Fernández, winemaker for Abel Mendoza of Rioja, Spain joined John Sporing, founder of A Life Well Drunk, for a WineUncensored virtual tasting on March 11, 2021. This was the second of four episodes featuring female winemakers and vintners in celebration of Women’s History Month.

Did you miss the live tasting? No worries, watch it here:

In our conversation with Maite, we were guided through three of her wines:

  • 2019 5V – 95 points Robert Parker
  • 2016 Jarrarte – 92 points Robert Parker
  • 2017 Seleccion Personal – 93 points Robert Parker

Meet the Maker

The husband-and-wife team of Abel Mendoza and Maite Fernandez have been pushing the winemaking envelope in Rioja since 1988. The pair has been growing and crafting single varietal white wines since before it was legal in the region, and their red wines are some of the most exciting expressions of Tempranillo in the world today.

Abel and Maite farm a total of 50 acres across 35 different plots spread throughout la Sonsierra in San Vicente, Labastida and Ábalos. They produce an average of 6,000 cases per year which are split into tiny allocations for various export markets. Extremely sought after, Wine Advocate calls Abel Mendoza “one of the true vignerons of Rioja and the whole of Spain.”

Both Abel and Maite’s families have long histories of grape growing in Rioja, but it was in 1988 that they decided to start producing wines themselves.

Abel is the viticulturist and refers to the work in the vineyard being the most important part of their winegrowing process. Maite is the oenologist and admits that intervention in the winery is important to make the wine, but the character of the land, climate and varietal must be reflected above all else.