Winemakers and consultants Alexandra Schmedes, Margarita (May) Madrigal and Gonzalo Rodríguez are behind this bodega located in Mesa de Ocaña (Toledo). The trio has contributed significantly to draw attention to the potential of Castilla-La Mancha's indigenous grape varieties.
Mesa de Ocaña, where Gonzalo Rodríguez hails from, is set on a plateau rising 100 metres above the left bank of river Tajo with a total elevation of 770 to 780 metres above sea level. The project began naively with a yeast starter made by May and Gonzalo while they busied themselves with the grapes of a friend's vineyard. This led them to discover the huge potential of local clones of Cencibel (Tempranillo) and Garnacha Tintorera (Alicante Bouschet).
This plant material has been used to grow 22 hectares of vines in El Horcajo, the vast 700ha estate owned by Gonzalo’s family. Their first plantings, on a wide gully crossed by the Madre de Dios stream, date from 1998. Most of the plots such as La Madre, which is located on the flattest area, El Señorito, or a piece of land planted to Malvar are bottled separately as single-vineyard wines. Soils are mostly clay-limestone except for the plot planted to Malvar, which has gypsum soils.
The 22 hectares in El Horcajo are organically grown and all wines are fermented with native yeasts except for the two entry-level white and rosé Ercavio. Other grapes are sourced form very old vineyards owned by locals and grown on a steppe landscape of wide horizons also dotted with cereal and olive groves.
Their favourite white variety is Malvar, a grape that ripens earlier than Airén resulting in fuller-bodied wines. As many as three versions are produced starting with the unctuous La Malvar de Más Que Vinos (€13, 4,000 bottles), made in the traditional style in clay jars (tinajas) and with a short time in oak; the orange wine Los Conejos Malditos (€10, 10,000 bottles), named after the rabbits that threaten their Malvar vineyard; and the rancio-style, oxidative El Vino de Antes (€50, the wine of yesteryear, only a few hundred bottles produced), which is fermented in clay vessels and aged in a barrel that is not entirely filled, so that it can developed a thin veil of yeasts.
La Plazuela (around €36 in Spain, 6,000 bottles) is their top red. A blend of Cencibel and Garnacha Tintorera (Alicante Bouschet), the percentage of each grape can vary from one vintage to another. The wine is named after the old family bodega located in the village’s main square (plaza) where the wine is aged next to the old tinajas and casks.
Other interesting wines include La Garnacha de La Madre (€18, 6,000 bottles), an unusual Alicante Bouschet with lots of character and striking finesse; Viña Señorito de Ercavio (€18, 8,000 bottles), a serious Cencibel with minty aromas and a firm palate; and 31 de Noviembre, a blend of the two aforementioned varieties but made as vin de soif. This one was inspired on the carbonic maceration reds from Rioja, a region that the three partners know well due to their consultancy work.
The winery, which is open to visitors, group meetings and corporate events, also offers a special activity for under-30s that combines a tour and wine tasting with countryside walks and outdoor sports. Más Que Vinos online store only delivers to mainland Spain but stocks all the wines, olive oil and three special bottlings made for the Almodóvar star filmmaker brothers