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I vividly recall my first taste of Ignios Orígenes. It was after a tasting at the importer's office, when a trio of unlabeled black bottles appeared, distinguished only by inscrutable cursive markings.
First to be poured: the Baboso. "What is Baboso?" I asked. In response, a gleaming splash of magenta filled my glass, a multi-sensory onslaught of technicolor fruits, perfumed florals, volcanic grit, and an electrifying charge that transcended the wine's impressive acidity.
Ignios Listán Negro was equally awakening. The charming local workhorse grape of the Canary Islands, Listán Negro makes fresh, peppery reds and fun rosés that I found easy-drinking and distinctive, if not terrifically complex. This wine, by contrast, was smoldering and exotic, with broad, supple layers of sweet smoke, briny umami, botanicals, and chewy, musky fruits. Years later, the audacity and sophistication of these wines continue to inspire, and they have gained a devoted clientele here at Chambers Street.
Borja Pérez González is the talented vigneron behind Ignios, a proud native of La Guancha in northwestern Tenerife, part of DO Ycoden-Daute-Isora. He runs his small but ambitious operation from the family winery where, as a young agronomy student, he got his start as a winemaker, and which he subsequently purchased from his father and uncle in order to launch Ignios Orígenes in 2011.
Ignios is dedicated to showcasing single vineyards of four of Tenerife's intriguing local grape varieties: Listán Negro, Baboso Negro, Vijariego Negro, and the rare white Marmajuelo. When talking about Canary Island wines, it is easy to focus on the obscurity of the local varieties, the own-rooted vineyards, and their dramatic volcanic terroirs. But in the case of Ignios, the wines themselves are equally interesting and beautiful. It is Borja's rigorous farming (100% organic as of 2017, after years of painstaking improvements in his Baboso and Marmajuelo vineyards) and natural but meticulous winemaking that enable soaring expressions of these grapes and their origins.
The wines are simultaneously focused and wild, challenging and pleasurable, with the elusive quality of making foods consumed next to them taste more delicious. Entering the dog days of summer, we welcome the arrival of this unique array of wines, which never fail to to enliven our palates and provoke our imaginations. We encourage you to pair them with exotic flavors and everything from the grill.
Today we are pleased to offer the newly-released 2015s from Ignios: Marmajuelo, Listán Negro, Baboso Negro, and Vijariego Negro. And since we weren't quite ready to say goodbye to the sensational 2014 vintage, Borja kindly agreed to send us a few magnums of each wine from his personal stash.
On a recent trip to Tenerife, in conversation about Ignios, a neighboring winemaker remarked that Borja's wines were immediately recognizable in a lineup, for their effusive aromas and distinctive energy. This is true. At the same time, they express vintage variation in interesting ways, which makes this opportunity to enjoy two different vintages very exciting. Cheers! Ariana Rolich
Borja Pérez González's complex and beautiful Ignios wines are proof that the future is very bright for this remote but prolific winegrowing region. Listán Negro is ubiquitous in the Canaries, yet Ignios is not like any of the others. From a striking single vineyard, one-half hectare of vines flanking a banana plantation close to sea level, the grapes are harvested to retain freshness, fermented in stainless steel with native yeasts, and raised in a mix of French oak barrels. Aromas are cool and exotic, more herbal than spicy - sour cherry, dusty rose, hibiscus, smoky tea, dried herbs and funky earth. Tart and juicy, broad but refreshing and light/medium-bodied, flavors are a delicious, palate-soaking tangle of fruit, musk, and earth: red plum, sour cherry, red beets, lime rinds, dried herbs, brine, and ash, with a smoky mineral finish. Serve with a chill and prepare to be awed. (Tasting note is from 750ml.) Ariana Rolich
Listan Negro is ubiquitous in the Canary Islands, but Ignios' rendition is unique. From a one-half hectare, 30-year-old single vineyard planted on iron-rich clay loam on a coastal banana plantation, the 2015 is tart and salty, with herbal raspberry and reductive aromas feeding into flavors of sour cherry, plum peels, red beets, salty soy, pepper, iodine, and smoky, funky earth. This wine evolves wonderfully with air as well as age in bottle. Decanting recommended. Ariana Rolich
Vijariego Negro (aka Sumoll) from a single vineyard at 780m on volcanic sandy loam in the foothills of Mount Teide, abandoned at a young age, but meticulously resuscitated by winegrower Borja Pérez González. 2015 is an elegant, floral, and approachable vintage for this typically dense and structural mountain wine. Aromas of rose, orange honey, grapefruit, and cherry blossom accent flavors of black cherry, tart raspberry, orange peel, salty brine, watermelon rind, black tea, and bitter sandy earth, with buoyant acid, moderate tannins, and pleasing length. A brilliant introduction to the complex Ignios reds, delicious paired with lamb burgers, confit, and spicy fare. Ariana Rolich
Baboso Negro (better known as Alfrocheiro in Portugal) has a powerful and flamboyant personality, making every vintage of this wine is a new adventure. Ignios Baboso comes from a 20-year-old single vineyard on volcanic clay loam in northwestern Tenerife, converted to organic farming by intrepid Tenerife vigneron, Borja Pérez González. The 2015 is very fresh and balanced, displaying Baboso's distinctive perfume and acidity, along with a full, beguiling palate of sweet wild cherry, brambly black raspberry, blackberry sap, and musky blood orange, lifted by notes of apricot, citrus peels, celery seed, and grounded by clear minerality and pungent volcanic earth. Ariana Rolich
A native of La Guancha, Tenerife, Borja Pérez González is leading the young generation of Canary Island winemakers with some of the most unique and nuanced wines in the region. His reds have a devoted fan base here at Chambers Street, so we are especially pleased when we can get some of his white wine as well (today, for the first time, in magnum)! Made from the local Marmajuelo grape, this exotic white offers contrast between silken tropical aromas of pineapple, aloe, lemon curd, and banana leaf with lip-smacking acidity and salinity on the palate of crisp stone fruit, with rich almond oil, a shake of white pepper, and bitter volcanic earth lacing the long, minerally finish. (Tasting note is from 750ml.) Ariana Rolich
Borja Pérez González of Ignios Orígines has painstakingly resuscitated a wildly beautiful vineyard at 780m altitude in the shadow of Mount Teide on Tenerife, planted to the distinctive local Canary Island variety Vijariego Negro (better known to Spanish wine lovers as Sumoll). We are excited to have received the 2014 vintage of this intriguing wine in magnum. Its heady aromas are typical of Ignios, full of spicy incense, wild rose, salty umeboshi plum, leather, and wild berries; the palate is full and sanguine, with rich red plum, tart berry skins, warm spice, dried oregano, tea leaves, and bitter volcanic earth. Borja warns that this vineyard will soon produce his top wine. We are sure he is right! (Tasting note from 1.5L.) Ariana Rolich
Baboso is the most bodacious of the Canary red varieties. Fruit-forward by nature, it takes a special winemaker to temper Baboso's tendency toward boozy exuberance and sappy berry excess.Borja Pérez González stays true to the grape's voluptuous core while emphasizing acidity and intense mineral expression. Heady florals, sweet smoke, and clove aromas precede a gushing, fruit-forward palate of black cherry, juicy purple plums, crushed black berries, spicy cloves, black pepper, wild flowers, kirsch, and smoky, volcanic earth. Careful farming and precise, gentle vinifications render a vivid, vertical expression of this sultry, mind-bending grape! While most reds from the Canary Island pair fabulously with the local supply of fresh fish and crustaceans, Baboso cries out for meals of roasted pork or grilled steak. (Tasting note from 750ml.) Ariana Rolich
As the sun goes down and the fogs roll over Tenerife, there is no better pleasure than to sip a glass of Ignios Marmajuelo alongside local shell fish and fresh mojo (Canarian pesto made of herbs, garlic, and plenty of vinegar - email us for recipes!). Marmajuelo plantings are rare. In 2011, Borja Perez Gonzalez recuperated two tiny 20-year-old parcels, perched above the Ignios Baboso vineyard, amounting to a mere 700kg of grapes. The wine is equally unusual, combining forceful salty and savory volcanic island elements - ocean air and smoky soil - interwoven with juicy (dry!) tropical fruits, accented by mellow notes of banana leaf, lemon balm, green almond, and aloe, with long, ashen mineral notes on the finish. The complex braid of flavors is lifted by invigorating acidity. This Marmajuelo displays significant natural tannin and viscosity, endearing it to adventurous cooks in search of special white wine pairings. Ariana Rolich