In Marina Alta, the wine can offer you a unique experience in terms of both its quality and its specialisation, not to mention its long history, going back over 2500 years. Set in the north of Alicante, next to the sea, this region gives name to one of the two protected Designations of Origin (D.O.) regions, being Vinalopó the other. They both fall under the D.O. of Alicante wines.
Indigenous grape varieties and their distinctive characteristics
The two main grapes in Marina Alta wine are the Muscat of Alexandria and the Monastrell (Mourvèdre). Some wines are produced using only one of these two grapes. Others mix the indigenous fruit with varieties such as Merlot, Shiraz or Grenache, grown in plots in the Vall de Pop.
Alexandria’s Muscat grapes
Throughout their long history, these grapes were highly valued for producing high-quality wines and liqueurs. But it was also highly esteemed internationally in its fruit form, as a raisin.
Today, it is highly rated for the oenological calibre of its characteristics:
- White, with a high organoleptic value.
- Wide variety of hues that change depending on whether it is an early or late harvest.
- High sugar content.
These particular features make it suitable for producing the fruity, aromatic, dry Marina Alta white wine, and sweet, fortified wines like Mistela. When combined with other grapes, it is able to add some very distinctive flavours and hues to wines.
Monastrell (Mourvèdre) grapes
Though a minority crop in this region, there are large crops in neighbouring areas. It is used to produce red wines with a deep flavour, rosé wines and other sweet wines. Here are its main characteristics:
- Black, with a soft, colourless, very juicy pulp.
- It produces juices that are high in sugar, with a very good colour and low acidity.
- It brings good ageing to wines.
- When harvested late, it produces wines that are high in alcoholic content, rich in tannins, and with an excellent structure.
Wineries of renown and wine tourism experiences
As you travel around this area, you will come across multiple wineries that open their doors to the public, with many guided activities. Wine tasting is often a good excuse for starting one of these, or it might be the climax, but either way, they will always show you their crops and processes.
There are large wineries as well as small, almost artisan, ones with all the flavour of ancient times. Some of the most noteworthy among Marina Alta wines are the following:
- Les Freses, in Jesús Pobre, just next to the site believed to be the first winery on the Iberian Peninsula, dating back to the 6th century BC.
- Antonio Llobell wineries, in Teulada, devoted exclusively to Muscat or Mistela fortified wines.
- Teulada winery, in the same town, with Marina Alta varieties of white wine, Mistela and vermouth.
- Riko Xaló wineries, in Xaló, an establishment that dates back to the year 1800, with incredible flavour.
- Xaló wineries, in the same town, producing high-quality wines and liqueurs and one of the largest wineries in the area.
- Parcent is a small, family-run winery devoted to limited productions of artisan, carefully-prepared wines. It is barely five kilometres from the one above.
Landscapes and soils that impact the quality of the wines
The rusticity of the land, the terrace farming, the temperate climate, but with peaks of heat in summer, and the dry land all determine what kind of fruit the vines will produce. The production itself is not particularly large, but the climate and land give it a quality that is truly excellent and constant.
Similarly, its structure with small farming plots has developed a tradition of incorporating the importance of selection. This is what determines today’s prioritisation of quality in its production. However, with Marina Alta wine, the price doesn’t get any higher because of this excellence.
Marina Alta wine tasting and pairings with local cuisine
Wine tasting in this region should begin with the dry, fruity Marina Alta white wine, suitable as an aperitif and paired with fish, rice and seafood. You can also find some sparkling wines that won’t disappoint with this combination.
Red and rosé Monastrell wines are excellent for lamprey, European eel, red meat or stews, game and uncured cheese.
And for desserts, nothing beats the Muscat sweet wines and Mistela fortified wines that go perfectly with fruit, cheese, sponge cake and coffee.
Events and festivals in the area linked to the world of wine
There are many competitions and all kinds of events scheduled in the main towns in the area all through the year.
Each year, the Province of Alicante Sommelier Association organises the awards for the best wines with the region’s designation of origin. Also, wine fairs, such as Denia Fair, bring the public and wineries together in the perfect combination with wine tastings, samples and various activities.
You can also travel to Moraira and discover the region, the wineries and vineyards from there. Come and visit Marina Alta and sample the wine that will make you want to return.