I'd rather be in Taganan, Tenerife than at home in Brooklyn right now! (Photo: Liz Fayad of Jose Pastor Selections)

Envínate: Wines of Terroir from Tenerife

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Roberto Santana, Alfonso Torrente, Laura Ramos, and José Martínez are the winemakers behind Envínate, one of the most exciting winemaking projects in Spain. The four friends, who met in oenology school, are making wine throughout Spain with a focus on regions influenced by Atlantic climates: in Ribeira Sacra,  and Tenerife in the Canary Islands, but also a small project in Almansa, west of Valencia. Focused on the character of these sites and their native grape varieties, they have eliminated all invasive chemical treatments in the vineyards and are  producing wines with methods in the cellar that transmit the character of their plots. To this end, they pick by hand, ferment with native yeasts, and ferment and age in old wood and concrete. 

Vines in Taganan. 
(Photo: Liz Fayad)

Today's wines are mainly those from Tenerife, where the team is working with plots and growers in three distinct microclimates. Each of these areas has a specific viticultural heritage that reflects their unique situations but also the complex overall historyof grape-growing and wine-making in the Canary Islands as a whole. There have been waves of influence from Spain and from Portugal and Madeira that have led to a unique and widely varied viticultural heritage including grape varieties, training methods, and styles of production. All of these inform the present state of viticulture in Tenerife and throughout the Canaries.

Tenerife and the other Canary Islands have been sheltered entirely from the impact of one of the most important and damaging events in the history of viticulture - phylloxera- and ungrafted, centenarian or older vines are abundant throughout the islands, as grafting is unnecessary without the threat of the aphid. Further, training methods in Taganan may remind the astute observer of those in Colares, as Santana notes in his interview with Brian McClintic of Viticole. The traditional method is different in the Valle de la Orotava where vines are traditionally trained in the uniquely Canarian braided Cordon Trenzado method. This method requires skillfully braiding the vines to keep them off the ground, protecting them from mildew in the wet climate 

The striking Cordon Trenzado, Palo Blanco, 80+ year-old vines. 
(Photo: Liz Fayad)

The varied viticultural heritage can be seen in the wealth of grape varieties that are grown throughout Tenerife and worked by Envínate and the growers that they collaborate with. A large part of that heritage comes from mainland Spain: perhaps most famous (and certainly most widespread) is Listán Negro, but there is also Listán Prieto (genetically the same as mission and Chile's Pais) and Listán Blanco (genetically the same as Palomino Fino, but certainly quite different in character), as well as Tintilla (identically, genetically, to Trousseau from the Jura and northwest Spain's Bastardo/Merenzao) and Albillo Criollo (another name for Albillo Real).

However, the islands' heritage of  grape varieties is almost equally Portuguese and particularly Madeirense, with Negramoll, Verdello, and Gual (better known as Boal), all hailing from Madeira; while Baboso Negro is genetically identically to Alfrocheiro Preto of the Dão. Other grape varieties defy such attribution: Marmajuelo, Vijariego, and Malvasia di Lanzarote are either distinct and native uniquely to the Canaries, or have not been conclusively matched to other grapes or ancestors

Old, untrained bush vines in Envínate's vineyards near Santiago del Teide
(Photo: Ariana Rolich, February 2019)

from the rest of the world.  

Envínate works with three sites with very distinct microclimates on Tenerife. From East to West they are Taganan (and its two parcels which produce their own wines, Margalagua and Campanario), the Valle de la Orotava (here, the team works with three vineyards to produce two wines: San Antonio and La Habanera are the vineyards for Migan, and the Palo Blanco vineyard is used for a single vineyard wine of the same name), and the vineyards near their winery, in Santiago del Teide, which produce the grapes for the Benje wines. These three zones are quite distinct visually, and even more so in terms of terroir, with differences in farming methods, climate, soil, elevation, and grape varieties. 

Margalagua. (Photo: Liz Fayad)

Taganan is perhaps the most visually striking of the three areas, with views of stunning rock formations, ancient terraces, and some very ancient vines. Perched on the far northeast coast of Tenerife, the climate here is quite typical of sites north of Mount Teide: windy, cooler, wetter, and more humid than the drier south. Most of the vines here are planted to Madeira varieties and to Listán Negro and Listán Blanco, and the vineyard's seaside terraces are perched on a cliff so steep that they must be worked very carefully by hand. Further, the humid climate necessitates careful farming and in some cases methods of training that raise the grape bunches into the air to avoid mildew. The soils are volcanic, with red clays, and elevation ranges from almost sea level to 300m. 

Margalagua is a single parcel in Taganan, planted to very old vines of Madeira varieties and perched on ancient terraces and buffetted by sea winds. It's extremely iron-rich red volcanic soils yield a uniquely robust wine, with silky tannins, that Envínate bottles separately from the rest of Taganan. This year, they've also separated a Campanario, a special parcel of centenarian vines of white grapes planted on sandy basaltic soils. Beyond the two single parcel wines, they produce a Tinto and a Blanco that express the volcanic, sea-infused character of Taganan.

Another view of Cordon Trenzado vines in Palo Blanco. (Photo: Liz Fayad)

Moving west, the Valle de la Orotava also exemplifies the northern Tenerife climate with plenty of humidity and wind, though at higher altitudes a bit further from the sea. Once, this was the land of Malvasia, used for sweet wines that were popular in America and in Britain. Today, these sites and are planted to Listán Negro (La Habanera, San Antonio) and Listán Blanco (Palo Blanco). San Antonio, owned and worked by Dolores Cabrera Fernandez, is about 350-450m above sea level and planted on volcanic soils with a large amount of clay, lending more generosity and fruit character to its Listán Negro grapes; La Habanera, at 500-650m, is sandier and has poorer soils and the Listán Negro from this site shows a spicier, more mineral character. The vines in San Antonio are older than the vines in La Habanera, but all average around 80-120 years-old and are largely trained in the local Cordon Trenzado method. Together, the grapes from these two sites are blended for the wine Migan. Palo Blanco comes from a vineyard of the same name, which is mainly Listán Blanco planted on rich black volcanic soils at around  600m of elevation. This special site produces wines of beautiful intensity and linearity, infused with Atlantic winds and volcanicity. 

Roberto Santana and old vines in a vineyard for Benje
(Photo: Ariana Rolich, February 2019)

Finally we reach Santiago del Teide, which is also the site of the Envínate winery. The climate here is informed by its position: high on the western side of Mount Teide (1000 to 1200m) there is far less rain and humidity, and more variation in temperature, from very hot to quite cool. Here, the Atlantic influence recedes and the climate is more Continental. The sun beats hot on this arid spot, where vines are interspersed with fruit trees and grapes need to be sheltered from the sun's rays to avoid scorching. 70-100 year-old vines of Listán Prieto, Listán Blanco, and Tintilla are planted here on volcanic sandy soils, largely untrained bush vines or pruned in the gobelet style. The character of the Benje wines that are produced in this area is strongly informed by the altitude: bright, linear, and fresh. 

In addition to Envínate's wines from the Canary Islands, a few wines from Galicia are tucked into the end of this offer. Envínate's production ethos is the same in Ribeira Sacra as in Tenerife. Please see the wines' individual notes for more information.

As has been the case for the past months, these wines were impacted by the 25% tariff on Spanish wine. Nonetheless, I feel that these are some of the most exciting and interesting wines from Spain and I'm excited to be able to offer them to our customers.

Thank you to Liz Fayad and José Pastor Selections for much of the information and many of the photos in today's email. And thank you Ariana Rolich for pictures, as well. Brian McClintic of Viticole Wine has two very informative podcast episodes about Envínate and their wines, which were very useful for this email. You can listen at https://www.viticolewine.com/listen. And thank you especially to Envínate: Roberto Santana, Alfonso Torrente, Laura Ramos, and José Martínez and their growers and others involved for their beautiful wines! 

Please allow for some delays in deliveries and processing, as we are currently working with a smaller staff.

Ben Fletcher

Envinate 2018 Tenerife Palo Blanco (Limit 2 per customer)

100% Listán Blanco from centenarian vines in the black volcanic soil of the Palo Blanco vineyard, in the Valle de la Orotava of northern Tenerife. This area is humid despite the substantial elevation (600m above sea level), and the vines are trained in the braided Cordon Trenzado method to promote airflow. All grapes are hand harvested and fermented with indigenous yeasts in concrete before aging in a mix of foudre and used barrels for 10 months. Bottled without fining or filtering, and with only a touch of sulfur. Ben Fletcher

  • white
  • 7 in stock
  • $54.99

Envinate 2018 Tenerife Benje Blanco (limit 2 per customer)

Listán Blanco from high elevation (1000-1200m) vineyards on the sunny, dry and continental western side of Mount Teide, near the town of Santiago del Teide. The vineyard was planted 70-100 years ago, and the soils are sandy and volcanic. All grapes are harvested by hand and a small subset macerate on the skins for about seven days. The grapes are fermented with native yeasts in concrete and used French oak, some of the wine ages under flor for several months. Ben Fletcher

  • white
  • 7 in stock
  • $34.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Envinate 2018 Tenerife Palo Blanco 1.5L (Limit 1 per customer)

100% Listán Blanco from centenarian vines in the black volcanic soil of the Palo Blanco vineyard, in the Valle de la Orotava of northern Tenerife. This area is humid despite the substantial elevation (600m above sea level), and the vines are trained in the braided Cordon Trenzado method to promote airflow. All grapes are hand harvested and fermented with indigenous yeasts in concrete before aging in a mix of foudre and used barrels for 10 months. Bottled without fining or filtering, and with only a touch of sulfur. Ben Fletcher

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $119.99

Envinate 2018 Tenerife Migan Tinto 1.5L (Limit 1 per customer)

100% Listán Negro, from two vineyards near La Perdoma in the Valle de la Orotava: san Antonio and La Habanera. Both are composed of old vines (80-100 years) and planted on volcanic soils with substantial amounts of clay, sand and basalt. Climactically, the Valle de la Orotava is wet and very windy, despite the altitude (350-650m above seal level). The grapes for Migan are harvested by hand and fermented with indigenous yeasts in concrete with some whole cluster inclusion before aging for about a year in neutral French oak barrels. Bottling is without fining or filtering, and with just a touch of sulfur. Ben Fletcher

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $119.99

Envinate 2018 Tenerife Migan Tinto (Limit 2 per customer)

100% Listán Negro, from two vineyards near La Perdoma in the Valle de la Orotava: san Antonio and La Habanera. Both are composed of old vines (80-100 years) and planted on volcanic soils with substantial amounts of clay, sand and basalt. Climactically, the Valle de la Orotava is wet and very windy, despite the altitude (350-650m above seal level). The grapes for Migan are harvested by hand and fermented with indigenous yeasts in concrete with some whole cluster inclusion before aging for about a year in neutral French oak barrels. Bottling is without fining or filtering, and with just a touch of sulfur. Ben Fletcher

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $54.99

Envinate 2018 Tenerife Benje Tinto (limit 1 per customer)

Limit 1 per customer. Listán Prieto from vineyards at around 1000-1200m near Santiago del Teide on Tenerife. This vineyard has sandy volcanic soils, and the vines are 70-100 years old. Climactically, this region is dry, windy, and continental in character, shielded from Atlantic influence by Mount Teide and elevation. The grapes are harvested by hand and fermented with indigenous yeasts with a maceration period of 10-20 days and punch-downs daily before aging for eight months in concrete and used French oak. Bottled unfined and unfiltered with a touch of sulfur. Ben Fletcher

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $34.99

Envinate 2018 Tenerife Taganan Blanco (limit 1 per customer)

A large blend of white grapes, many hailing originally from Madeira and Portugal: Gual, Albillo Criollo, Marmajuelo, Malvasia, Forastera, Verdelho and others. From vines in Taganan along the far northeastern coast of Tenerife, where the soils are volcanic with sand and basalt. The vineyard is exceptionally steep, with ancient terraces, necessitating that it be worked by hand. The untrained vines range from 60 to 200 years old are planted from the side of the ocean up to 300m above sea level. Grapes are harvested by hand, then fermented with indigenous yeasts in open-top vats. A small subset macerate on their skins for around 7 days. The wine is aged in neutral oak for eight months, then bottled without fining or filtering and with only a small addition of sulfur. Ben Fletcher

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $34.99

Envinate 2018 Tenerife Taganan Tinto (limit 1 per customer)

A field blend of many grapes, mostly red: Listán Negro, Listán Gaucho, Malvasia Nera, Negramoll, Baboso, and many others. The vineyard is on the northeast coast of Tenerife, planted from the water up to 300m above sea level. These ancient vines (70-300 years old) are planted on very steeply terraced, sandy, basaltic soils. All grapes are hand harvested, then undergo fermentation by indigenous yeasts with some whole clusters in open-top vats and concrete. The wine is aged in neutral oak for eight months before bottling without fining or filtering, and with only a touch of sulfur. Ben Fletcher

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $39.99

Envinate 2018 Tenerife Taganan Tinto Parcela Campanario (limit 1 per)

A blend of white grapes (Gual, Forastera Gomera, Verdelho, Listán Blanco) from a special parcel of 100+ year-old vines on particularly sandy soils in the Taganan vineyard. The grapes are hand harvested and fermented with indigenous yeasts in open-top vats before aging for around a year in neutral French oak. Bottled without fining or filtering, with only a small amount of sulfur. Ben Fletcher

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $64.99

Envinate 2018 Tenerife Taganan Tinto Parcela Margalagua (limit 1 per customer)

Margalagua is a parcel of the Taganan vineyard composed of 100-300 year old vines of red grapes on a uniquely iron-rich seam of soil with distinctive red basalt. Due to the silky character of the wines that this parcel produces, it is vinified differently with a much longer (30-45 day) maceration and 100% stem-inclusion, yielding a darker, bolder, richer wine.  

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $69.99

Envinate 2018 Ribeira Sacra Lousas Vinas de Aldea (limit 1 per customer)

From a collection of parcels throughout Ribeira Sacra. "These Mencía grapes are fermented 1o0% whole cluster with wild yeasts in open top plastic tubs, then raised in used 300 and 400 liter French oak for 11 months with no racking. A touch of SO2 is added only at bottling, and the finished wine sees no fining or  filtration." (Note from Jose Pastor Selections).

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $42.99

Envinate 2018 Ribeira Sacra Lousas Vinas de Aldea Seoane (limit 1 per)

From a single parcel in the Amandi subregion on slate soils. "The Mencía (and friends) grapes were hand-harvested, foot-trodden with 100% whole grape clusters, wild yeast fermented in open-top bins, and raised for 11 months in older  500L French barrels without racking. At bottling a touch of SO2 was added, but there  was no fining or filtration. " (Notes from Jose Pastor Selections).

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $64.99