Located 70 miles off the west coast of Morocco, on landscapes that rival an episode of Star Trek, lie the Spanish-owned Canary Islands. It is the most tropical wine region in all of Europe, and boasts having never been affected by phylloxera- that pesky little aphid that destroyed most of the vineyards in 19th century Europe. Seven Islands make up the Canaries, each with its own soil composition and microclimate. It’s likely we’ll talk about every island at some point, but right now I want to talk about the island of Tenerife, and the very tasty bottle of 2014 Envínate “Táganan Parcela Amogoje” I just drank.
Tenerife is the largest of the 7 Canary Islands and is home to over half of its DOs. It hosts Spain’s tallest mountain, El Teide, and the steep slopes of this active volcano house the highest altitude vineyards in all of Europe. Yes, volcanic island wine! Winds from both the Atlantic and Africa pose a challenge, and many winemakers shield vines with circular stone walls to protect from the effects.
As for Envínate, it means “wine yourself,” which is pretty sound advice. It is the creation of four friends that met in enology school who, after graduation, decided to form a sort of consultancy- meaning they live and make wine in separate regions, but sell under the same name. They operate mainly out of Ribeira Sacra and the Canary Islands. I’ve tried most of the wines and they are impressive to say the least, very good examples of terruño and clean, well made natural wine. The “Táganan Parcela Amogoje” straight knocks it out of the park.
Envínate farms all of their own vineyards and purchases a small amount of fruit from other farmers (all organic), but the “Táganan Parcela Amogoje” is from a single vineyard parcel on Tenerife. Both red and white grapes grow wild through this parcel- all indigenous varieties, all at least 100 years old and all on their own rootstock (no phylloxera). The red grapes are picked and go into a field blend. The white grapes- Malvasia, Gual, Listán Blanco, Albillo Criollo, etc etc are co-fermented and aged on the lees for a year to create this amazing wine. It tastes like the island- like rocks and sun and salt and lees- just to give it the right amount of backbone. The chalky soils of Tenerife come busting out of the bottle and it feels like you are drinking a chalky, liquid volcano. Production is extremely limited- only 600 bottles of the 2014 were made, and they didn’t even make this wine in 2015 or 2016 because the vintages weren’t perfect. So I suggest you get yourself either to the island of Tenerife or to Ordinaire in Oakland for a bottle. Either way you will not be disappointed.
Blogged at: Ordinaire, Oakland. Arlequin, SF
Soundtrack: Run the Jewels 3