Manu Guardiola, Viticultor in Xaló, Alicante

Manu Guardiola Viticultor
Manu Guardiola Viticultor

In the province of Alicante (Spain), there are projects that stand out not only for the quality of their wines, but also for the people behind them. We have already spoken previously of Pepe Mendoza, in the small village of Lliber of the Marina Alta of Alicante.

A few kilometers inland from Lliber we find another town called Xaló. This is where Manu Guardiola Viticultor sets on motion his passion for wine. Farmer tradition in the family and with oenologist studies, Manu began making wine with his father many years ago for their own consumption, since the family has a handful of hectares they have been devoted to grapes and fro time to time they used to add more plots. As a result of this work, Manu now has four hectares spread over the La Solana area, surrounding Xaló and some other small plot in the Plá de Lliber area, in the upper parts of Bernia and in Xábea/Javea. Monastrell, Garnacha Tintorera, Syrah, Merlot and the autochthonous Giró among the reds, and Moscatel and a little bit of Merseguera are the white varieties he is working with.

Manu is one of those winegrowers honest with his grapes. His plots are the place where the grapes are born and grow naturally, and there he works organically, using only a little Bordeaux mixture and sulfur. In the winery he works without oenological additives. His cellar is in the basement of his house, where he has stainless steel tanks and the occasional barrel. We might call it garage, because though there is no room for a car or access to it, the space could be more to produce what we can call vins de garage. In any case, and whatever we call it, it is one of those places that exudes passion. I have to be honest and I must say that there is a bit of disorder, but that is part of the charm that is breathed there, which is a lot.

Manu decided to make wine more seriously in 2015. I mean serious about putting it up for sale, of course, because its wines are serious, very serious. But unlike other winemakers starting out in the world of wine, Manu can afford to wait a few harvests before releasing his wines to the market.

His red wine available today Els Marges Vi Negre 2015, a great assembly of 45% Giró, 30% Monastrell, 10% Syrah, 10% Merlot and 5% Merseguera, from which he only has a few bottles remaining. Then he will move on to 2017. Considering that until recently he produced about 4,000 bottles and that he is now doubling that number, selling 2015 now has a lot of merit. Merit also because it is really good and I don’t really understand how’s possible he still has some bottles available. I mentioned that I like his wines, and this one shows absolutely well the character of the local Giró that I love so much: medium body, a controlled alcohol level and eight-months aging in 225-liter barrels which makes so enjoyable tasting this wine.

Els Marges Vi Rosat is another of Manu’s piece of art. In this case it is a direct press rosé of which he is selling now the 2019 vintage. A very well made wine, 70% Giró, 25% Monastrell and 5% Merseguera. I ‘m not a big fan of rosés, but I have to say that Manu is making me a believer.

The third and last wine that Manu produces is Els Marges Vi Blanc Brisat. Brisat is how they call in the Mediterranean area wines whose must has been in contact with the skins for a period of time, that is, it is an orange wine! 93% Moscatel and 7% Merseguera, with a maceration period of four days. 2018 is the vintage on sale, but I have to go back to see Manu, so maybe he won’t have it if you talk to him after I have gone. This wine is really made to my style, fresh, elegant, full of flavors and a very cool tannic. We tasted two vintages, 2017 and 2018, and on top of the difference between both of them, they were very good. 2017 lighter, 2018 much more tannic and dense. This was mine, but 2017 was great too. Two different vintages in this style of orange wine that offers two contrasting personalities. Quite a success.

You may have already noticed that I really like Manu’s wines. We tasted several vintages to see the differences, and also some tank and barrel samples. Enough to realize that Manu knows what he is doing and that I have to keep an eye on what he is doing. Producers like him are the ones worth following.

We will soon talk to Manu Guardiola about his passion for wine.