Envinate Discover New Spanish Wines
Friday, June 7, 2019 in News
Time to reconsider the Canary Islands – as a wine destination. Envínate is an exciting project from four friends – Roberto Santana, José Ángel Martínez, Laura Ramos and Alfonso Torrente. They are bringing new (and different) thinking and winemaking to old and unusual vines, and alternative varieties, in Tenerife. Discover the wines.
We love a new find at Langton’s. Even when we taste lots of quality wines, those ‘Yes!’ moments are few and far between. Our own Head of International Buying, Jesper Kjaersgaard had one of those moments with Envínate. His allocation is, of course, already sitting in his cellar.
Spain is one of the most exciting wine-producing countries in the world right now. And it’s not just a few new producers or a handful of 100-point reviews putting it on the map. Spain is, quite simply, in the middle of a vinous renaissance. New winemakers are challenging the established order and changing perceptions of Spanish wine on the international stage. Envínate (pronounced enn-bee-Nah-tay) is an important and distinct (if not unique) part of that vanguard of changemakers. These wines are the result of the work done by Roberto Santana.
What about the wines?
While we have a range of Envínate wines, we’ll simply look at two of them here. The Parcela Margalagua (red) and the Benje Blanco (white) are both from Tenerife, both alternative variety blends, and both rare as hens’ teeth.
This is our first look at the Parcela Margalagua. A high-altitude red from the southern European area, medium-bodied and made from alternative varieties that enjoy good sun on volcanic soils – reading this description, you’d probably be thinking Etna Rosso. Add in the minor detail that this wine has been produced ‘on the Atlantic coast, off western Africa’ and you might be a little less confident.
To get an idea of what the Parcela Margalagua (meaning ‘Mother of the Water’) is like, an Etna Rosso is a good place to start. There’s crunchy red fruit of lingonberries or cranberries. It’s fragrant and floral, showing light spice and a touch of salinity (a nod to the Atlantic exposure). It’s bright, vibrant and bracing. It drinks very well now, but it has the bones to age. There will be an interesting experiment in seeing how this wine develops. However, so few have made it to these shores that, year-on-year, comparisons will be nigh on impossible.
Benje Blanco Listán Blanco Tenerife 2017
The Benje Blanco is quite a different prospect. The vines are too long, the hills too steep, the varieties too many to remember and, if that wasn’t enough, Envínate makes the wine in part in concrete vats under flor (think Jura and Sherry). There’s a little skin contact too, though the deep colour would suggest more than just a little. The balance of the wine is aged in Burgundian oak barrels and foudres.
For the fruit profile, think of green apples and pears – their skins on the nose and flesh on the palate. A little citrus, too, and not a little herbal. The age of the vines (70- to 100+-years-old) and method of making gives the wine such deep and nuanced complexity, with a gravelly, wet stone minerality to the finish. Like the Parcela Margalagua, there is a touch of salinity. This is a serious white wine.
Tenerife, the rediscovered country.
Tenerife is a Spanish archipelago, but it isn’t Spain in a geographical sense. Closer to Senegal than Spain and sitting at a lower latitude than Tunisia, this chain of volcanic islands is known and loved for its black soils and white beaches. However, it’s the dark terroir that is of particular viticultural interest. That’s before mentioning the high altitude of the vineyards, the ancient vines with their long spidery arms and goblet trellising, the maritime-climate and the salt influence from the Atlantic.
The isolation of these islands has meant that the vineyards have been somewhat forgotten by the wine world, but that same isolation has been a boon. Phylloxera never arrived and the vines survive on their own roots. The terroir is worked by hand and horse, an intensely manual undertaking given the vaulting and treacherous slopes. Roberto Santana, working with local farmers, has put the island back on the vinous map.
Discover the wines of Envínate today.