Despite receiving DO status in 1957, Alicante remains a centre of bulk wine production. It has had this reputation for some time and sadly there seems little incentive for growers to break free from their large co-operative contracts and pursue a path of quality wine-making instead. As always though, there are a few low-production gems hidden away if you know where to look.
Sitting just south of the city of Valencia, Alicante experiences a Mediterranean climate on its coastal border, while in land, closer to the towns of Villena and Pinoso the hot, dry, and at times arid conditions are more suitable for red varieties. It is here where varieties such as Monastrell and Mourvèdre grow that Alicante’s reputation for engine room red was born. Baking under hot sun, the vineyards extend south along the Vinalopó river.
Dividing Alicante up into three sub zones can be helpful when seeking to predict where future generations might seek to raise the quality bar. The up and coming area is La Marina, long dismissed for being too wet for good grapes. This coastal area of the appellation may well have some potential. The new kid on the block is producing white wines of moderate interest around the towns of Denia and Calpe. Moscatel is the grape of choice here as it takes advantage of hot summers and maritime humidity.
The real fun to be hand though is with the younger winemakers who are understanding both the potential and the limitations of Monastrell. With expert handling the variety can have its naturally high tannin and propensity to give excessive dryness subdued to create good mono varietal wine. Others are experimenting by blending with newer planting season of Cabernet, Merlot and Tempranillo.