• Wine Yourself:  Envínate's Canary Island & Ribeira Sacra Gems

    Wine Yourself: Envínate's Canary Island & Ribeira Sacra Gems

    As you can imagine, visiting with Envinate in Tenerife in the Canary Islands and then Ribeira Sacra a few days later was about as good as it gets on the wine route. In both terroirs, Roberto Santana and Alfonso Torrente have found the most dramatic old vine parcels, and since they founded Envinate in 2005 they've proven to the world that we all need to raise our own bars of expectation from these destinations. Now, the level of precision and finesse capable in these two historic regions is clearly cemented.

    Today, I'm happy to offer Envinate's 2017 and 2016 lineup.

    The story behind Envínate traverses through mainland Spain and the Canary Islands. The jaw-dropping scenery took on new form for me as I scrambled up ancient terraces in mainland Spain and in Tenerife, located off the southwest coast of Morocco. Favoring understated, fresh, and mineral-driven wines from ancient parcels, this project encapsulates the thrill of today's Spain. (Videos can be found later this afternoon on our Instagram Stories account @kogodwinemerchant)

    Envínate translates to Wine Yourself, and was the creation of four friends who were studying enology at the University of Miguel Hernandez in Alicante in 2005. Roberto Santana, Alfonso Torrente, Laura Ramos, and José Martínez slowly began consulting with wineries after college, in the process discovering forgotten sites that brought with them old vines, but treacherous terrain. The previous generation saw the challenge as insurmountable, but this gang of four knew the treasured opportunity that presented itself. 

    There's no doubt, it's the sensitive approach to harvest and winemaking that ultimately defines the success of the four. There are no chemicals used in the vineyards and clusters are hand-harvested. In the cuverie grapes are foot-trodden in small bins and fermentation occurs spontaneously from native yeasts on the skins. Wines are raised in old oak barrels and sulphur is only used when necessary at bottling. Each step Envínate takes is to ensure site-specificity is the focus in the bottle.

    For me, the wines have an immediacy and joy to them that's so rare to find from first sip to last. They are spicy, fresh, and saline-driven, never compromising the vivid fruitiness that is the foundation of the raw material.

    Albahra Tinto sources 30-yr-old vines from Albacete and Almansa, just south of Valencia near the coast. The soil is chalky with limestone and clay deposits. 100% Garnacha Tintorera (Alicante-Bouchet).

    Benje Blanco sources 70-105 yr-old vines from volcanic soils of the Canary Islands. 100% Listan Blanco.

    Benje Tinto sources 70-105 yr-old vines from volcanic soils of the Canary Islands. Blend of 95% Listan Prieto, 5% Tintilla.

    Taganan Tinto comes from 100+ yr-old un-trained vines planted on the volcanic soil of the Canary Islands. Varieties planted here are a mix of Listan Negro, Listan Gaucho, Malvasia Negra, and others. at up to 30 meters in elevation perched steep above the Atlantic Ocean. Vines are farmed by Envinate as well as 15 different families. This northern coast of Tenerife sees a more temperate climate with strong coastal winds that are ideal to preserve freshness and verve. Fermented 30% whole cluster and aged in a combo of small tanks and used barrels.

    Palo Blanco comes 100+ yr-old braided Listan Blanco vines in Tenerife grown on volcanic sand. These are immediately pressed off their skins and aged in two Friulian 2500L oval foudres for 10 months. There is no malolactic fermentation here, and the saline quality of this wine is extra pronounced.

    Migan Tinto is comprised of 90-120-yr-old Listan Negro vines planted on volcanic sand and clay in Tenerife. Migan taps two parcels of cordon trenzado (braided vines) Listan Negro. 60% comes from the La Habanera plot (100% whole cluster ferment) on volcanic sand at the highest elevation in the area, and 40% comes from the older San Antonio plot (15% whole cluster), lower on the slope and with more clay. Aged in older 228 & 600L barrels.

    Lousas Parcela Camiño Novo comes from 70-yr-old Mencia (90%) and Garnacha (10%) grown on a combo of granite and slate in Ribeira Sacra. Parcela Camiño Novo is a southeast facing parcel that makes an amphitheater in the Amandi subzone of Ribeira Sacra. A much cooler site for this region, and gives wines that with levity, brightness, and superior cut and focus. Fermented 100% whole cluster and aged in used 300-L and 400-L barrels.

    Lousas Parcela Seoane comes from 80 yr-old Mencia vines in Ribeira Sacra. Seoane is a single parcel located in the Doade area of the Amandi subzone where the soils are strictly slate. The slate reverberates the heat collected during the day time, but also endows tremendous minerality, making this perhaps the most muscular and powerful wine of the group. Fermented 100% whole cluster and aged in used 500-L barrels.

    Parcela Margalagua (pictured above) translates to "Mother of Water" and is about as close to a coastal Jurassic Park environment as I could imagine. STEEP. Vines here are all own-rooted and over 100-yrs-old. Covered are many varieties inter-planted such as Listan Negro, Listan Prieto, Baboso, Negramoll, Malvasia Negra. This is the most elegant and incisive of the Envinate wines, with distinct citrus and salty inflections.
    Posted by Alexander Rosen