18 January 2018 Today we are republishing free Ferran's excellent investigative report on the wines and vineyards of Tenerife, including a video that reveals a unique insight into the role of Tenerife in the history of the wine trade. For an equally fascinating report on another Atlantic wine hot spot, see The volcanic wines of the Azores.
12 December 2017 Tenerife is the largest and most central of the seven Canary Islands, 2,000 km (1,240 m) from Madrid but 100 to 400 km from the coast of Africa.
The tropical climate with a mean year-round temperature of 22 ºC (71.6 ºF) and long sunny days attracts six million tourists a year, mainly from the UK and Germany. Some producers claim that Tenerife is the second sunniest wine region in the world after Chile's Atacama desert. The highest mountain in Spain, the Teide, dominates Tenerife and reaches an elevation of 3,718 m (12,200 ft).
The 8,000 ha (19,770 acres) of vineyards on Tenerife (5,000 of them producing appellation wine) are divided into five appellations: Yconde-Daute-Isora, Valle de la Orotava and Tacoronte-Acentejo in the north and Abona and Valle de Güimar in the south. This mosaic of appellations makes sense for locals but can be a bit confusing for others.
This may be the main reason for the creation of the 70-strong producer association. They aim to build a global brand called Tenerife Wine coexisting with the appellation system but simplifying the message to consumers. The brand was launched in July 2017 and provided me with a good reason to travel there and accept the opportunity to blind taste a selection of the best wines chosen by Tenerife Wine producers. It is still too early to know the impact of the new association but joining forces in order to better promote their wines surely makes total sense.
Conversely, the diversity of the island is obvious as you travel round the Teide extinct volcano from east to west. The north (Yconde, Orotava and Tacoronte appellations) are much more humid and rainy (400–700 mm/15.7–27.6 in a year), thanks to thick clouds brought from the Azores by trade winds that are blocked by El Teide. This singular climatic effect can be seen clearly from the top of the mountain and generates a beautiful landscape known as el mar de nubes, the sea of clouds (pictured below).
The southern part (Abona and Güimar) is drier (300 to 400 mm of rain a year) and historically has been a white wine area planted mainly with Listán Blanco. In the village of Vilaflor in the appellation of Abona are the island's highest vineyards, planted from 1,300 to 1,600 m. Volcanic soils are predominant especially in the north. They have great drainage, retain humidity and also encourage roots to go deep in search of precious water. In fact yields on the island are really low, ranging from 3,000 to 4,000 kg/ha, and mechanisation is almost impossible in most vineyards.
One of the particularities of Tenerife is the abundant array of local grape varieties, most of them ungrafted as phylloxera never hit the island. Some of the oldest vineyards in Ycoden are propagated by layering, an ancient reproductive technique abandoned post-phylloxera. Today some producers are banking on single varieties, in contrast to the traditional field blends, allowing us a better understanding of their individual characteristics.
Listán Blanco and Listán Negro are the principal grapes, mostly produced in a delicate style. However, after the tasting, my preference was for the powerful, smoky and sometimes leathery Baboso Negro (known as Alfrocheiro in Portugal) and the mineral and chalky Vijariego Negro (Sumoll). As for the whites, I don't have a clear favourite. The fragrant and aromatic Malvasias shone as clearly as usual, while an electrifying blend of Verdello and Albillo garnered 18 points from me. Marmajuelo demonstrates that it can be successfully produced in a ripe, broad style. Negramoll (which goes under many names elsewhere), the main grape in Tacoronte Acentejo, seems not to attract the attention of producers; just four of all the wines tasted had a tiny percentage of it. The recovery of Listán Prieto, the well-travelled Mission of California and País of Chile, is indeed very good news and today it is producing attractive red and sparkling wine.
Emigration has been a problem, and land is extremely expensive compared with some other less expensive regions in Spain: up to €70,000 a hectare (eight times the price of some other Spanish agricultural land). You will understand, therefore, why I am so happy to see so many new wine projects with some old vineyards being recovered, making a quality-oriented wine industry a reality.
My blind tasting of 48 wines was grouped by appellation. The following is an overview of each region.
- Tacoronte-Acentejo is in the north east with 1,700 ha (4,200 acres) of vines ranging from 100 to 1,000 m (328–3,280 ft) elevation. Terraced vineyards are common to avoid soil erosion on these slopes. Most of the wines are youthful and easy-drinking reds with low alcohol levels. This was not a top-rated region although Bodegas Crater is producing a superb Malvasía. Furthermore, Bodegas Insluares presented their thrilling sweet wines sold under the name Humboldt, with their 2005 Vendimia Tardía scoring 18 points. I really feel enthusiastic about this wine as it tastes halfway between sweet madeira and very old sherry.
- Valle de la Orotava is a beautiful valley flooded by 1,000 ha (2,471 acres) of vineyards mainly located on the Teide foothills (300–700 m/984–2,297 ft). Here the traditional cordon trenzado, or plaited cordon, training system (see Canary islands – where vines creep up on you ) is used. They are wines with great delicacy, chalkiness and no over-extraction at all. Unsurprisingly for followers of www.JancisRobinson.com, Suertes del Marqués achieved great scores. Bodegas Tajinaste is also a winery to follow; its CAN 2015 is opposite in style compared with Suertes del Marqués but is it also deliciously made.
- Ycoden Daute Isora (1,000 ha/2,471 acres) is in the north west. The vineyards range from low coastal elevations to 800 m (2,625 ft) inland, although some reach 1,400 m. This is one of the most humid parts of the island. Two projects here are of particular interest. Firstly I have the pleasure of introducing the young and very talented winemaker Borja Pérez. Then there is the terroir-hunting, single-vineyard-oriented Enviante company consisting of four brilliant friends: Roberto Santana, Alfonso Torrente, Laura Ramos and José Martínez. Today they focus on Almansa, Ribeira Sacra and Extremadura as well as Tenerife. The wines from Enviante have been closely followed at www.JancisRobinson.com, getting enviable ratings. Both Borja's and Enviante projects are focusing on a non-interventionist winemaking philosophy, looking for charm rather than power, adding very little sulphites and encouraging terroir. The results are very convincing in the wines' youth. However I am unsure of their ageing capacity, as they are quite evolved and play with an oxidative character. If they demonstrate the ability for maturing without turning too oxidative, leathery or farmyardy, they will become great bottles of wine, but I am slightly sceptical about this. Special mention should be made of the two delicious wines sold under the name of Táganan by Envínate. The generic white may be the saltiest wine I have ever tasted whereas the Parcela Maraglagua red is a subtle and exquisite expression of a century-old vineyard.
- Abona (1,500 ha/3,707 acres) in the south of the island was a great discovery, with particularly dry conditions, elevations up to 1,500 m (4,920 ft) in Vilaflor and the very poor volcanic soils producing wines that taste almost salty to me. One name shines in the region. Altos de Trevejos was established as recently as 2012 by a long-established viticulturist family. They are producing wines that are among the most exciting on the island. Their Albillo/Verdello 2015 was my favourite wine of the whole tasting. The main picture top right is of old vines in Abona; the picture below is of a tasting corner in the cellars of Altos de Trevejos.
- Valle del Güimar (700 ha/1,730 acres) is located in the central area of the south part of Tenerife with the majority of the vineyards located between 200 and 800 m (655–2,625 ft) elevation. The plots are really tiny; the mean is less than 1 ha per parcel. The whites are the ones to be followed, especially the intense, powerful, creamy and sometimes exaggerated wines produced by El Borujo under the brand Los Loros, another notable enterprise.
In a nutshell, if you like low-alcohol, unconventional, delicate but expressive profiles, salty or chalky characters and small, independent wine producers, Tenerife is a region to take notice of. I'm not entirely sure of the origins of this saltiness and chalkiness. I have heard many opinions. Some cite the proximity to the sea, other producers talk about the relationship between pH and tartaric acid, but I am not entirely convinced. Scientific researches point to stress of the vines and the subsequent generation of a higher percentage of succinic acid. Whatever the reason, more research is needed to resolve this relatively long-standing question.
Tenerife wine's historical importance
Finally I would like to share a great moment of my visit to the island. I had the opportunity to meet Carlos Cologan, a historian and researcher with ancient British roots. He has recently published a 700-page magisterial book on the commercial trade in Tenerife wine, just 1760 to 1797. It is a spectacular work based on researching an old archive containing tens of thousands of letters from 1625 to the end of nineteenth century. The archive is owned by the Cologan family itself and it is kept in a very atmospheric location known as the historical archive of Santa Cruz de Tenerife province.
The archive evokes days gone by. Many of us will first have been made aware of the glorious days of wine from the Canary Islands thanks to William Shakespeare (1564–1616) who, in Twelfth Night, has Toby Belch calling for 'a cup of canary'. It is known that in 1630 almost half of Tenerife's Malvasia was marketed through London.
But the real discovery in Cologan's research contradicts the long-held view that Malvasia was the most important Canary Islands wine. The records show that in the eighteenth century the most traded wine by far, energetically traded in fact throughout the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, was called 'Vidueño' (meaning wine coming from all sort of grapes) or 'Teneriffe', based not on Malvasia but on Listán grapes. This is a new finding and changes the paradigm of Spanish wine history.
Two more extraordinary findings by Cologan are a letter from George Washington that confirms his preference for Tenerife wine over beer for his troops during the American civil war, and an agreement from the British First Fleet about loading Tenerife wines for the trip to Botany Bay in order to found the penal colony that became the first European settlement in Australia. In his book, Cologan also explores the important relationship between Tenerife and the powerful East India Company.
The archive is so beautiful, and Carlos's researches so interesting, that I decided to record a short video (see below) so that you have the opportunity to experience it yourself. I hope you enjoy it.
All 48 wines (except the wines from Táganan) were tasted blind at the Casa del Vino of Tenerife, a picturesque centre of wine promotion in Santa Cruz de Tenerife – well worth a visit. I am also very thankful to the team of Casa del Vino, the Tenerife Wine Association and especially to its president Enrique Alfonso.
Wines are grouped by colour and appellation, with a few sparkling wines at the very end, and are then listed in the order tasted but you can change the order within the groups.
100% Listán Negro. Stainless-steel fermetation of whole bunches in a carbon dioxide-rich environment, prior to a slight pressing. Clarified and cold stabilized.13.5%
Tasted blind. Simple and pleasant wine without much complexity. Youthful and showing plenty of sweet red fruit. It has a soft fruit character but is not particularly long. Easy and uncomplicated red wine. (FC)
Blend of Listán Negro, Negramoll and Tintilla. Vineyards are planted on volcanic soils in La Matanza and Sauzal villages. Winemaking was carried out in stainless steel vats.13%
Tasted blind. The wine is slightly limited in expression; the nose is chalky, meaty and herbaceous. The fruit is underneath the herbaceous notes. It has soft texture but bitterness is dominating the palate. It is a youthful wine without much extract. (FC)
Listán Negro, Syrah and Merlot. Hand-harvested grapes are sorted twice on a conveyor belt. Grapes are destemmed and crushed before 15 days' maceration. Fermentation finishes in French and American oak barrels with a subsequent six months' ageing. Clarified, cold stabilised and filtered.13.5%
Tasted blind. Purple coloured. Very young wine based on the fruit expression. It has a farmyard touch. Soft but not particularly long. The mid palate is full of strawberry sensation but the back palate is a little bitter and austere. (FC)
50% Listán Negro and 50% Negramoll. Grapes are grown on the lower elevations of Tacoronte municipality. Matured for a short period in oak.13%
Tasted blind. The nose is slightly reductive, showing aromas such as burnt match or earth with a limited black fruit character. The wine is light, easy drinking but slightly disjointed. (FC)
Listán Negro and Negramoll planted on clay soils. Six months' maturation in French and American oak barrels.13.5%
Tasted blind. The nose is very open and the wine is developing, it has a marked toasty character, savoury spices, chalky expression and generous oak charge. The palate is soft, with sweet black fruit, low and delicate tannins and a bitter aspect at the back palate. It is harmonious although oak is dominating. (FC)
Mainly Listán Negro. Harvest started at the end of August and finished the first fortnight of October. Vineyards are located from 300 to 500 m elevation on volcanic soils.13.5%
Tasted blind. Very ripe and showing plenty of sweet dark fruit, very extreme ripeness. It is ample and voluminous on the palate, very sweet tannins, almost creamy in texture. The palate is full but not over-extracted and far more ripe than the average for Tenerife. A different winemaking approach within the region. (FC)
VALLE DE LA OROTAVA REDS AND ROSÉ
Blend of Listán Negro and Vijariego Negro. Cordon-trained vines planted on volcanic soils with a clear Atlantic influence. A tiny winery producing artisanal wines. Indigenous yeasts were used, fermentation took place in traditional concrete tanks. Aged in oak.13.5%
Tasted blind. The wine has a very delicate profile, very open nose showing herbs and earth, elegant overall expression. It has an acceptable touch of farmyard. Do not expect intensity or body but if you like subtlety that might be a very good pick. This is an upcoming wine with a mineral expression. (FC)
100% Listán Negro. Vines aged over 80 years old, from the El Chibirique vineyard. Hand-harvested at the end of September. Wild-yeast fermentation in open plastic vats, then transferred into French oak barrels to complete malolactic fermentation. Maturation in 500-litre and 228-litre barrels. This family-owned winery avoids chemical systemic treatments and has a philisophy of minimum intervention.13.5%
Tasted blind. Very intriguing nose, not based on the fruits but in earthy, mineral, potato skin and truffle sensation. Very singular profile. Delicate, open, with a non-interventionist aspect but without defects at all. Little extraction and superbly integrated alcohol. Unique! (FC)
Ungrafted Baboso Negro grown on a little plot at 390 m to 450 m elevation with a north-east exposure and planting density of 6,500 vines per hectare. Soils are composed of a clay layer over volcanic rocks with indigenous green cover. Spontaneous fermentation in open tanks, followed by malolactic fermentation in French oak barrels of 500- and 228-litre capacity. Aged on the lees in oak barrels for 14 months. Unfiltered.13.5%
Tasted blind. The nose is really fragrant and refined, very delicate, showing spices, smoke and a leathery touch. Very remarkable within the flight with a superb chalky sensation on the palate. The tannins are totally mellowed and it has enough supportive fruit. This is a real demonstration of the stylistic summit of Orotava wines. (FC)
Listán Negro. Vineyards are located in the middle of Valle de la Orotava at 400 m elevation.12.5%
The nose is really pleasant, dominated by a prominent fruit character and showing sweet candied black fruit. The palate is easy-going, light, not extremely complex but has a pleasant overall sensation. (FC)
Blend of old-vine Listán Negro and Vijariejo Negro. The estate is on the northern slope of Tenerife, 380 m above sea level. 50% of the vineyards are trained in the characteristic cordón trenzado (plaited cord); the rest in cordon de Royat. Manual selection is done twice, first during the harvest and subsequently on the sorting tables. Cold pre-fermentative maceration. Alcoholic fermentation in stainless-steel tanks of 10 hl before malolactic fermentation is carried out in Nevers oak barrels. 75% aged in new French oak barriques and 25% in one-use oak casks.13.5%
Tasted blind. Very perfumed showing floral notes such a violets, delicate black fruit and pure overall expression. I really like the texture, it is tight, the tannins are really integrated, very rich but caressing fruit expression. It is fresh but not acidic. It is a very meritorious bottle of wine. (FC)
100% pre-phylloxera Vijariego Negro planted at 1,300 m elevation on volcanic soils. Whole bunches are macerated and fermented in tanks with a submerged cap to avoid oxidation. Malolactic fermentation in French oak barrels with a subsequent 12 months’ maturation. Refinement in bottle.14%
Tasted blind. The wine has a truly mineral expression showing chalk, pencil lead and earth. It is very deep on the aromatics. I am very impressed by the texture of the wine – soft velvety tannins, rich but drinkable, salty rather than acidic and an intense character yet totally drinkable. Top-level Vijariego. (FC)
100% Baboso Negro. At 1,300 m elevation, Villaflor is the highest municipality in Spain and is located near the Teide National Park. The soil is composed of a clay-loam surface over volcanic subsoils. Grapes were destemmed and cold macerated before fermenting using submerged-cap methods to avoid oxidation. Aged for 12 months in oak.14%
Tasted blind. I have always had a fixation with Canary wine and this wine represents all that I love about the region. It has an immense ripe black-fruit character, chalky sensation and earthy aromas. It is juicy and concentrated but still tight and delicate. Very exhilarating. It is a gorgeous Baboso from Abona. (FC)
100% Baboso Negro. Eight months' barrel maturation.14%
Tasted blind. The nose is extremely ripe and full of sweet black fruit and bitter herbal notes. It has some chocolate-liqueur notes. The palate has some delicacy; it is not too extracted although the wine seems to be evolving quickly. (FC)
100% Vijariego Negro. Aged for eight months in oak.14%
Tasted blind. Very ripe and intense on the nose, it is quite complex and shows black olives, earthy aromas, sweet black fruit and sweet spices. The tannins are firm and clearly noticable. It is broad, playing dangerously with some overripe notes but still well delineated on the palate. On the powerful and ripe side of Abona. (FC)
A blend of unknown varieties. Organic farming. 12 months' ageing (80% in French oak barriques and 20% in American oak). The winery was established in 1947.14.5%
Tasted blind. It has a very open nose with some evolving aromas: sweet fruit, ripe aromas, herbal notes and touch of leather. Very soft and aerial, on the very delicate side of Tenerife. Quite easy to drink and driven by a delicate salty acidity. (FC)
YCODEN DAUTE ISORA REDS
90% Listán Negro and 10% Vijariego Negro from four different locations at 450 m to 700 m elevation. Long maceration periods and indigenous yeasts are used. Minimum intervention. Wine from El Palmar vineyard matures in French oak foudres, the wine from Genovés and Santa Bárbara vineyards matures in third-year French barriques of 228 litres. Blended after eight months’ ageing, clarified but unfiltered.13.5%
Borja Pérez is a flagship and revolutionary producer in Tenerife, a risk-taker with a unique vision. His wine is wild and idiosyncratic; it has lots of fresh red fruit, leathery and earthy notes. The palate is soft, almost texture free but full of aromas. Tannins are extremely delicate and have a marked ash character on the palate. Very fluid and different from the rest. However, I am unsure of the ageing capacity, as it is already showing evolution. (FC)
Baboso Negro from a single vineyard called La Vizacondesa. 20-year-old ungrafted vines planted on clay-loamy soils. 30% of the grapes are whole-bunch fermented without crushing. Cold maceration for 48 hours followed by stainless-steel fermentation.. After pressing, the wine is racked into used 600-litre French oak casks. Barrel maturation lasts 12 months and the wine is not stabilised or filtered.14.5%
Tasted blind. The wine is extreme in terms of ripeness; it shows prunes, sultana and very ripe black fruit. It is already open and evolving, with a touch of nail varnish. It is very gourmand, broad and full of sweet tannins. (FC)
Mainly Listán Negro and Listán Prieto. 70- to 120-year-old vines planted on volcanic soils at 1000 m elevation. Hand-harvested grapes are whole-bunch pressed and undergo a cold maceration prior to fermentation. Ambient-yeast fermentation and ageing in French oak barriques for eight months. No clarification or filtration before bottling. Envínate is a joint venture of four young and passionate oenologists producing wines in different areas within Spain.12%
Tasted blind. Very delicate wine, it is tender and soft. It is salty, a little extracted, expressive. The palate is herbal, with mineral expression and hidden fruit. It might be the least-extracted wine of Tenerife but it is so harmonious and authentic. I am unsure of the ageing capacity but if it has an adequate evolution it will become a great bottle. (FC)
£23.50 Vin Cognito 17
REDS WITHOUT APPELLATION
A blend of Listán Negro, Listán Prieto, Baboso, Negramoll, Malvasia Negra, all from a single vineyard of untrained and ungrafted 100-year-old vines. Whole-cluster fermentation in 500-litre French oak casks for 11 months.13%
Extremely tender and delicate nose showing spices, potato skin, dried flowers and complex overall aromas. Very little texture but heady, aerial, soft acidity and lingering delicate sensation. If you fancy delicacy this is a must-taste wine. It is quite heartbreaking, vibrant and sumptuous. (FC)
£36 Vin Cognito 17.5
85% Listán Blanco and 15% unknown varieties. Vineyards located at 300 to 500 m elevation on volcanic soils. Oaked.13%
Tasted blind. Very clean and highly perfumed, superbly made, lots of fresh fruit and a grapey sensation. It is pure and has a floral touch. It is voluminous and creamy on the palate, with well-placed oak and a distinctive salty sensation. It is not particularly deep but quite GV for a €10 wine (retail price). (FC)
The Crater winery was created in 1998 and is the joint project of a group of friends looking for typicality. Malvasía Aromática and Listán Blanco grown at 400 m elevation on volcanic soils in Tacoronte and El Sauzal municipalities. Sustainable integrated viticulture is practised. Matured on its lees for three months.12.5%
Tasted blind. What a lovely and concentrated nose: blossom, chamomile, grapefruit and olive leaf. Very creamy but balanced by a refreshing sensation. Not exaggerated on the palate but expressive and vivid. I particularly love the texture. A superb example of Malvasia, finishing elegantly with a bitter touch. It is a really exhilarating wine. (FC).
Listán Blanco and Moscatel fermented in stainless-steel tanks. Three months' maturation on fine lees. Static settling and cold stabilisation.12%
Tasted blind. Clean, easy-drinking and refreshing wine based on simple green-fruit aromas. It is light, with a salty expression and totally drinkable. (FC)
Blend of Albillo and Verdello from Villaflor, the highest municipality in Spain. Vines grow at 1,240 m elevation, on volcanic soils with a clay-loam topsoil. Hand-harvested grapes are destemmed before a conscientious berry selection. Only juice from the first press is used. Aged for three months in oak. The winery is located within a traditional house of declared cultural heritage.12.5%
Tasted blind. This wine is all about delicacy and I love it – it is not overwhelming, but has a superb mineral expression. It shows herbal notes, lime-flower infusion, steely character and extreme purity. It is refreshing but not acidic; almost alkaline to me. Sometimes delicate wines are underrated in blind tasting but I guarantee that this wine shined with particular energy in the flight. Bright and excellent if you are keen on subtle wines. (FC)
Old vines of Listán Blanco and Malvasía Aromática at 1,240 m elevation facing north on volcanic soils. After picking, grapes are carefully selected on a sorting table. Cold maceration is carried out to extract aromas, before fermentation in stainless steel and subsequent nine months' ageing on the lees.12.5%
Tasted blind. Intensely flavoured showing chamomile, honeysuckle, green-peach and stony character. It is fleshy, almost salty and has plenty of blossom notes on the palate. Extreme concentration and great definition. It is rounded, really aromatic and has a mellow back palate. It is an explosion of taste. (FC)
100% Malvasía Aromática. Cold maceration. It is aged in 50% French and 50% American oak barrels for three months with lees stirring.14%
Tasted blind. It shows clear quince aromas and has a slight and really eye-catching oxidative character. It is really oily and full on the palate with a bitter finish. Lots of herbal aromas such as fennel and dried leaves. It is a very showy and remarkable Malavasia. (FC)
100% Albillo Criollo fermented in oak.13.5%
Tasted blind. It has creamy notes, and lots of quince aromas. It is voluminous, broad and pleasant on the palate, showing flavours of candied citrus. The 2015 has a caramelised and oxidative sensation on the back palate, and I am not convinced about the ageing capacity. However, this is a producer to keep a close eye on. (FC)
VALLE DE LA OROTAVA WHITES
Unknown varieties. Most popular wine from this family-owned winery.12.5%
Tasted blind. The wine has some oxidative sherry notes that are hiding the fruit. The wine is light, fresh and slightly bitter. Slightly disjointed. (FC)
Listán Blanco from ungrafted vines that are over 100 years old. Vineyards are trained in cordón multiple trenzado (multiple braided cord). Whole bunches were pressed. Fermented spontaneously and aged for 10 months in 500-litre neutral French oak casks.13.5%
Tasted blind. It has a broad expression on the nose, dominated by toasty aromas. It shows fennel, chamomile and quince. It is one of the most concentrated and tight wines produced in Tenerife. It is has a salty expression. A must-taste wine for burgundy lovers. (FC)
£27 Vin Cognito 17
100% Albillo. Tasted blind. The nose is already open and oxidative, showing dried leaves and little green fruit. It is light on the palate and has plenty of nail-varnish sensations. (FC)12.5%
VALLE DE GÜÍMAR WHITES
Albillo Criollo vines on volcanic soils at 1,000 m elevation. Aged on lees for three months in stainless-steel tanks.12%
Tasted blind. The wine is well made, clean and displays lots of tropical fruit such as pineapple and stone fruit. Really refreshing, vivid and expressive. It is driven by citric acidity and has lots of green-apple notes on the palate. A wine on the refreshing and easy side. It is a crisp drink. (FC)
Albillo Criollo on stony clay soils. Very dry climate. This plot is located in front of the winery in Arafo municipality, at 850 m elevation. Hand-harvested, destemmed and soft pressed. Fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless-steel tanks. Light fining and filtration.12%
Tasted blind. This is a powerful white wine, full of creamy notes and ripe-apple aromas. On the palate it is voluminous, almost exaggerated, in texture but well constructed. Very long and textured. It is one of the most powerful and energetic wines in Tenerife. It is not refined although I am quite impressed. (FC)
100% Listán Blanco from Las Dehesas, in the high area of Valle de Güímar. Dry farming on volcanic soils. Aged and stirred on the lees for a short period.12%
Tasted blind. Very fragrant and perfumed, white flowers, green apple, candied citrus and exotic. It is really easy to drink, pleasant and fruit driven, but on the refreshing side. It is a style I love to drink. (FC)
80% Marmajuelo and 20% Gual (ie Malvasia Fina, or Bual). Planted on sandy and clay soils depending on the elevation. Grapes from different small plots in Arafo municipality are hand-picked in 15 kg cases. Fermentation starts in stainless-steel tanks before being racked to French oak barrels to complete fermentation and spend a further five months on the lees. Slightly clarified and filtered before bottling.13%
Tasted blind. This is a really showy wine, toasty, showing a touch of positive oxidation, with dried fruits, dried leaves and candied lemon. It has a deep and extracted aroma. Exaggerated, creamy and dense, mouth-coating and voluminous. The oak is noticeable, showing smoky flavours but quality is also there. Aweome discovery and a must taste if you like powerful white wine. (FC)
Blend of Malvasía and Albillo. Fermented in new American oak barrels.13%
Tasted blind. Intensely perfumed showing citrus, grapefruit, pineapple and white flowers. Easy drinking, fluid and uncomplicated. Not particularly deep but nicely done. (FC)
Hand-harvested Vijariego Blanco and Listán Blanco from different plots. Pneumatic pressing without stalks. Low-temperature fermentation followed by six months' maturation on fine lees in stainless steel tanks.12.5%
Tasted blind. The wine is very yeasty and creamy, it seems that the lees character does not let the fruit express itself. It is very ample, creamy, broad and explosive on the palate although not particularly refined. Quite impressive but I think the winemaking intervention has gone a bit too far. (FC)
YCODEN DAUTE ISORA WHITES
100% Listán Blanco from four different pre-phylloxera vineyards at 450 m to 700 m elevation. Different wire-training methods are used. Fermentation with indigenous yeasts in 500-litre French oak casks; neither enzymes nor sulphur is added. Every plot was vinified separately, one with skin-contact. Aged in oak on its lees for eight months without stirring.13%
Tasted blind. The wine seems slightly oxidative and it shows sweet quince, toasty character, very ripe fruit and a stony quality. I think the overall aroma is really meritorious. The palate is slightly spirity with a touch of nail varnish, it is creamy and yeasty but still has a mineral expression. It is not a perfectionist's wine but if the oak is adjusted and the nail-varnish sensation controlled, I see a very promising future for the wine as it has a unique and chalky profile. (FC)
100% Marmajuelo grown at 460 m elevation. Ungrafted vines on clay-loamy soils. 20-year-old single vineyard. Hand-picked and whole-bunch pressed. Cold stabilisation and static débourbage followed by fermentation in second-use 500-litre oak barrels. Aged on lees for 10 months, fined and filtered.13.5%
Tasted blind. The nose shows a positive oxidative touch, it shows ripe quince, dried flowers and a toasty lift. The ageing is noticeable but the wine has enough concentration and texture to cope with it. Broad, ample and impressive in texture. (FC)
Hand-harvested Listán Blanco. Bush vines aged 60–120 years, on volcanic soils at 1,000 m elevation. Integrated viticulture, no herbicides are used. Alcoholic fermentation is carried out in a mix of concrete tanks, Italian oak foudres and burgundian oak barriques.12.5%
Tasted blind. The wine seems on the natural side, it displays cider notes, fennel, dill and laurel, it is quite herbal. It is refined in texture, quite fresh and displaying an elegant salty sensation. Well made and pleasant with a remarkable freshness. (FC)
WHITES WITHOUT APPELLATION
Listán Blanco from different plots around Taganana village (north east of Tenerife), at 75 to 400 m elevation and varying in vine age from 50 to 150 years old. The vines are propagated by layering as the region has not suffered from phylloxera. Eight months' ageing in oak. 6,000 bottles produced.12.5%
The nose is very open and shows delicate aromas of cider, fennel, dill and a very clear chalky sensation. The oak is superbly placed and the overall expression is intriguing and quite captivating. The palate is awesome, it is creamy but it also is the saltiest wine I remember tasting, showing energy and depth. Tones of saltiness on the palate. Vibrant and unique. (FC)
£19.50 Vin Cognito 18
Malvasía on volcanic soils at 1,240 m elevation. Hand-harvested at a late-ripening stage. Berry selection prior to destemming process. Cryo-maceration is performed to extract skin aromas. Controlled-temperature fermentation stops naturally.15%
Tasted blind. Golden colour. It is aromatic and floral, displaying an eye-catching ripe citrus fruit sensation, textbook sweet Malvasia. Medium sweet with balancing acidity and plenty of baked-apple flavours. Lovely and pleasant. (FC)
100% Malvasía. Production limited to 2,000 kg/ha. Naturally sweet wine.16%
Tasted blind. Copper colour. Very intense and deep nose showing cacao, toffee, figs and sultana. It is luciously sweet but delicious. I love the chocoalate sensation on the back palate. Still nervous for such a sugary charge. (FC)
Listán Blanco. Fortified sweet wine. Aged for 60 months in fifth-year American oak barrels, plus 84 months' bottle maturation.19.5%
Tasted blind. Very oxidative and caramelised, it shows toasty notes, almond, dry fruits and caramel. It has a very positive touch of volatile acidity (vinegar acidity) that brings up the freshness. It reminds me of some medium-sweet madeiras. It is intense and extremely penetrating. It is a great and melancholic bottle of wine. (FC)
100% Listán Blanco. Selected grapes were over-matured on the vine. Alcohol of vinous origin is added to arrest the fermentation when the alcohol reaches 8%. Bodega Comarcal de Tacoronte is one of over 947 members of the co-oporative Bodegas Insulares Tenerife.17.5%
This really is a WOW wine, very penetrating and delicious showing candied orange, sweet spices such as cloves, dried figs, prunes and bitter cacao. Sweet but not sugary with superb nerve and deeply flavoured. Still great potential ahead. I am touched by it. (FC)
Blend of Malvasía and Marmajuelo from one of the warmest areas in Tenerife. Late harvest with a subsequent drying in the sun ‘soleado’. The wine is fermented in French and American oak barrels.14.5%
Tasted blind. The wine is really toasty and oaky; it shows dried fruits and baked apple and displays a spirity touch. It is slightly resinous on the palate, very sweet but still keeping balance. Well made but not particularly concentrated. Bitter finish. (FC)
ABONA SPARKLING WINE
Listán Blanco sparkling wine. Traditional method, aged in bottle on its lees for at least 12 months. Disgorged on May 2017. No dosage.12.5%
Tasted blind. It is clean, well made, pure and pleasant. It is youthful and not too complex. It is an easy-drinking and joyful sparkling wine based on citrus and fresh-fruit flavours. (FC)
Listán Prieto. Slight maceration before winemaking in stainless-steel tanks. Traditional method of production, with 12 months' bottle age. Disgorgement on June 2017. No dosage.12.5%
Tasted blind. Pale rosé colour. It is a refreshing and citrusy style of sparkling wine. Light and vivid, not particularly concentrated but very pleasant. Very easy to drink and totally on the fresh side. (FC)
VALLE DE LA OROTAVA SPARKLING WINE
Early-harvested Listán Blanco. Sparkling wine, second fermentation took place in bottle. Aged for a minimum of nine months.11.5%
Clean and refreshing, based on green-apple aromas. It is an easy-going wine, not particularly deep, well made and showing a nervous aspect. Nicely done. (FC)