From Didier Dagueneau to Eben Sadie, every generation has its standout winemakers. We asked a team of experts to pick the stars of tomorrow – making wines you can afford today. Fernando Mora MW was suggested by Sarah Jane Evans MW, author of The Wines of Northern Spain (Infinite Ideas Classic Wine Library, 2018)
One of Spain’s brightest stars, Fernando Mora’s journey in the world of wine has been incredibly rapid. His first vintage was 2008, and he’s already getting scores of 94 and 95 for his wines. He works in the historic region of Aragon and has built his reputation on that formerly unloved variety, Garnacha, recently launching a campaign to protect and defend old vines.
He began his professional life as a mechanical and electrical engineer with no background in wine. The turning point in his career was a trip he made with his wife to the Vivanco wine museum in Rioja, where he realised he was ‘fascinated by this very diverse, complete world’. They went on to visit Bodega Blecua, in Somontano. ‘As we left the building, I said to my wife, “We’re going to make wine”. Three months later, I converted a room in our fl at into a microbodega, and made the wine in the bath.’
Determined to enter the wine world, Mora got to know Mario López, whose family had a vineyard and a local bodega for bulk wine production. Along with two friends, Mora and López launched a project in 2010 to make fine wine. Some of their vines date back to 1890, and the result is Frontonio, which came out in 2013. ‘But we didn’t have the first idea about how to sell it or at what price,’ he admits.
He’s a quick learner, though. His diary at Prowein was stuffed full of appointments, and he passed the Master of Wine exams at the first attempt. His MW research paper was on old vines. ‘So much of what you need to know comes from people,’ he says. In 2016 he spent 36 weeks away from home, travelling the world selling wine, and ‘talking, tasting, studying’. Mora is focused, driven, constantly enquiring – and he’s also great company.
He makes friends easily and is quick to acknowledge the debt he owes to two who were already experts in Aragon: Norrel Robertson MW, and Jorge Navascues Haba, who is now winemaker at Contino in Rioja. In just five years, Frontonio has established itself as a name to watch, even if its appellation – IGP Valdejalón, in Zaragoza province – is obscure.
The wines are improving every year. His Cuevas de Arom wines (a play on his name and on the word aroma), made in underground caves in Campo de Borja, will be out soon. Mora is only at the beginning of what promises to be a fascinating journey in wine: telling the story, making friends and winning converts along the way…
Bodegas Frontonio, Supersónico Garnacha 2016
Forget the cliché of leathery Garnacha, this is elegant and spicy, with red berries and cherries, fresh with fine tannin, and a long finish.
Polished by six months in 500-litre oak barrels.