Fondillón is a type of Alicante wine that is the only one of its kind in the world, recognised by the European Union in its E-Bacchus database and enjoying special protection under the Alicante Designation of Origin.
Its main virtues are that it is obtained from over-ripening Monastrell grapes on the vine (and this is how it is classified). This is something that can be done in Alicante in certain harvests because of the long summers and due to the low humidity and clean atmosphere that prevails during October and November, which can lengthen the life cycle of Monastrell grapes (which are already late to ripen) until then.
Another unique feature of this wine is that the alcohol comes exclusively from the grapes, so fermentation is biological and receives no additives whatsoever. This also sets it apart from other protected wines, although it does have some similar organoleptic properties to Port and some Sherry wines, which do have additives. The minimum permitted alcohol content is 16o.
Monastrell has a high sugar content and its powerful colour and aromas give the wine a longer life, an essential feature of the product.
The minimum ageing period is 10 years. What makes it very special and varied is the type of casks and barrels used in the ageing process. In many cases, they are old Alicante casks holding up to 1,200 litres and providing the warm, woody hints found in this wine.
The ageing casks are part of the fascinating heritage of the Alicante Designation of Origin, as they link the history of the old wine caves in Alicante’s country houses and how wines have been shipped all over the world in these containers.
The wine is aged by the traditional method of the Solera system, blending the oldest wines with a carefully controlled amount of the newer ones, giving the end product its wonderful richness. The Añadas (or vintage) system is also used, involving blending wines from the same year. From 2014 onwards, the product label will be specifying and defining both systems.
Fondillón de Alicante is one of the historic wines of this Designation of Origin; it has always been produced in Alicante’s vineyards and enjoyed an excellent reputation as a first-class product. It has always featured in royal households, in stories and legends, in literature and in people’s memories.
At present, production is now starting to adhere to operating manuals put in place by the Regulatory Board. These measures are intended to maintain authenticity and pass standardised processes and procedures on to new winemakers.