Salvador Poveda Winery and “Fondillon”
On the 9th of June we visited the Salvador Poveda winery located in the area of Monovar, in the province of Alicante. It was a visit in which nobody could feel indifferent about the surrounding desert landscape, with its hard and stony soils, where the Monastrell grape variety blossoms.
The winery is situated in the Vinalopo Valley, in the interior of Alicante, 400-600 meters above sea level. Here the vines grow with the minimum amount of water and the grapes are free of pesticides because the desert climate prevents the proliferation of pests. The winery is of particular interest because it makes a “rancio” wine called “Fondillon”, a very important part of the Alicante culture dating back to the 15th century, when Fondillon was exported all over the world.
What is this Fondillon wine and why is it so famous? It is a rancio wine made exclusively in the province of Alicante from the Monastrell grape, has a high alcohol and sugar content and all of this sugar comes from the grapes. The most interesting part is the techniques of production and ageing of this special drink. It differs from the still wine because the grapes are harvested when they are overripe and almost become raisins. After the harvest, the skins and must remain together during a fermentation of approximately one month. Once this process is complete the wine is introduced in 1500-liter-barrels and the ageing starts for about 20-25 years. Only after this period it is considered ideal for consumption. Each vintage is used to fill only a portion of a new cask and then it is continuously replenished with new vintages so it is always a great reserve wine.
During the fifteenth century European wineries sent their agents to buy wine in Alicante, at the time a huge center of wine production Monastrell grape. The wine was preserved and exported in wooden casks 1730 liter. At some point they realized that the longer the wine was kept the better it evolved, specially the bottom part, the “fond”, of the barrel. Soon, the wine was exported overseas as it also acquired a reputation for its health benefits. During the following centuries Fondillon became a prestigious table wine, and famous in the literature. Unfortunately, with the phylloxera (Phylloxera plague that destroyed most of the vineyards for wine grapes in Europe), the Fondillon disappeared at the beginning of the 20th century, until people like Salvador Poveda rescued it from oblivion in 1976. He launched his first bottle, vintage 1959.
Fondillon owes its fame to several historical writers who found great pleasure drinking it, such as William Shakespeare, Alexander Dumas, Fyodor Dostoevsky or Joseph Townsend to name a few.
Currently Alicante Designation of origin recently started to accept Fondillon wine category for only 10 years aging.
What is the perfect moment to drink this wine? There are infinite ways to enjoy Fondillon, it may be drunk as an aperitif, it could accompany a main course, or if you prefer, drink it as a dessert. We could say that Fondillon is a cousin of the Madeira Wine.
So, if you want to try a wine with a historical trajectory you must meet Rafael Poveda and try his Fondillon.