If you want to see Europe's highest vineyards you'll have to travel. In fact, starting from the Straits of Gibraltar, you'll need to head south-west for more than 800 miles, to the slopes of Spain's tallest mountain - El Teide - the active volcano that looms over Tenerife.
What is it about wine made on volcanic islands? Santorini, Etna, Tenerife - they each produce unique, world-class wines. If you find that surprising in the case of Tenerife then you need urgently to try the wines of the island's top producer, Suertes del Marqués. They (along with the other leading name, Envínate) are reversing 200 years of decline and making wines which are being talked about everywhere, as the world's top restaurants scramble to get them on to their lists.
The Suertes del Marqués vineyards cover a nine hectare slope down to the Atlantic. Jonatan Garcia Lima is the winemaker, and this collection of vineyards has taken him and his father many years of painstaking work to assemble. It includes very old, ungrafted vines (Tenerife, like Santorini is free of Phylloxera) uniquely trained up to ten metres up and down the hillside. The wines are simply made, with subtle oak influence from large old casks. They have a fresh, slightly wild side and are wonderfully elegant, with layer upon layer of complexity.
If you can find them, there are numerous wines available, all of which are highly reputed and much fought-over by sommeliers. We're focusing on two that we think offer particularly good value.
Suertes del Marqués 2018 Trenzado (white)
Listán Blanco, plus small amounts of some other local varieties from a number of vineyards with vines up to 150 years old. Partially fermented and aged in used French oak casks. Trenzado has a wonderful smoky (volcanic!) quality with wild herbs and citrus flavours. Long, complex and fascinating - if you a fan of Chablis and/or Jura Chardonnay then this is for you.
Suertes del Marqués 2016 7 Fuentes (red)
Listán Negro and Tintilla from various vineyards with vines up to 180 years old. Partially fermented and aged in used French oak casks. Like the white, this has the smoky quality that for whatever reason is often found in 'volcanic' wines. Tangy, red fruit with plenty of minerality. Very fresh and light-bodied, but definitely not simple. Utterly delicious and compelling.
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