Envinate and the 2020 Vintage

2/12/22 -

Year after year, we fall in love with the wines of Envinate, a collaborative project founded by four winemakers and friends who met while in enology school in Alicante. Roberto Santana, Alfonso Torrente, Laura Ramos, and José Martínez make wines from choice plots in the Canary Islands, Ribeira Sacra, Murcia, and Almansa, intending to express the unique terroirs of each region. 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.  As they progress on their journey, they have been honing their winemaking skills, and deepening their relationship with the vineyards they tend, and the unique terroirs and grapes they work with. The experience they have has clearly influenced their understanding of each parcel, and enabled them to envision wines they want to create and then do so, even with the challenges of climate change.

Roberto Santana showing different parcels in Tenerife

In southern part of Tenerife, in the Canary Islands, drought has become a serious problem, and yields are down 60% on average. As Ben Fletcher (of José Pastor Selections) explains, everything turned to crisis style agriculture, with the focus on survival over canopy management or other priorities. The Envinate team had to work hard in their parcels to ensure that the vines survived, and they were forced to prune for the sole purpose of "reducing hydric stress and the vines' natural response to the lack of water." (BF) In the Vale de la Orotava, the harvest was the earliest ever. In Taganan, 2020 was the driest year yet (rainfall has drastically reduced since 2016), and the harvest here was also the earliest ever for the Envinate team.

Alfonso Torrente in the Seoane parcel, Ribeira Sacra

Unfortunately, conditions weren't much better in Ribeira Sacra in 2020. All across Galicia, the spring was rainy and then came a long, dry summer. Some sites lost over half of their production and the grapes that were harvested were small and concentrated, which led the Envinate team to harvest earlier than normal.

The good news is that the wines are outstanding! Of course production was limited, but what they did produce was an impressive lineup of soulful wines, beauty from adversity, if you will. Collectively, the Envinate team decided in 2020 to stop using temperature control in the cellar, and they started to work with shorter macerations with their wines. The change from using temperature control is indeed notable, and reveals the confidence that they have in their work, and in their parcels, which they have now tended for many years. To some degree, the shorter macerations may be in response to the challenging conditions in their vineyards, but seems to clearly also be an approach towards a delicate style. Without being able to compare them with previous vintages in the same sitting, it does seem that the wines are more forward and graceful in this vintage, perhaps a result of this approach.

Camino Novo parcel

The following are short excerpts from the fantastic article written last year about the Envinate wines, by Chambers St. alumnus Ben Fletcher, who is now part of the José Pastor Selections team! For more information on the vineyards and the project, click here. On Tenerife, Envínate works with three sites with very distinct microclimates. 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.

Tenerife and Envinate vineyards, courtesy of Jose Pastor Selections





In Ribeira Sacra, they work with several plots over a range of soil types.The Vinas de Aldea is Envínate’s “village wine”, produced from a combination of –minimum- 60-year-old plots. The native vines are grown on steep slopes made of slate and sit in between 400-600 meters elevation. Camiño Novo, or “new road”, is a small single parcel located in the prime Amandi subzone of Ribeira Sacra.  This parcel faces south-east, forming a small amphitheater at 430 meters elevation.  The vines are 70 years old and is made up of 90% Mencía and 10% Garnacha Tintorera.  According to Alfonso Torrente, a native to the area, Camiño Novo is a significantly cooler site for the area. Seaone is a single parcel located in the Doade area of Amandi, Ribeira Sacra.  Once again, the soils are pure slate.  The vineyard faces south-west, and the vines are very old, at least 80 years of age. This site yields wines that are upfront and very Atlantic. Misturado is sourced from a centenarian parcel located in Ribeiras do Sil.

Ribeira Sacra and Envinate vineyards

If it wasn't clear already, production was very limited, so we apologize in advance if wines sell out !

Please note, the single vineyard wines are 1 bottle per customer, and all wines will be available after Feb. 21st.

-Eben Lillie

** I forgot to explain the story behind "Chingao." As legend goes, José Pastor and Noel from Bichi Winery (Mexico) were visiting the Envinate folks and tried a special wine they had produced. Someone yelled out "chingao!" which is basically slang for "f*cked" but more in the sense of: "that's F*ng awesome,"  and so it began. Chingao wines are always special expressions and are always made with no SO2 added at any point o

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