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Suertes del Marqués: Of Vines and Volcanoes—Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Suertes del Marqués: Of Vines and Volcanoes—Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

…These are truly brilliant wines and are well worth checking out.” Jamie Goode, wineanorak.co.uk
 
The wines from Suertes del Marques prompted me to write this article about wines from the Canary Islands, as I was excited with their marked personality... Their philosophy is to intervene as little as possible, ferment in cement vats with natural yeasts, age in 500-liter barrels (and bigger volumes in the future), and use as little sulphur as possible, respecting the wine and the terroir.” Luis Gutiérrez, The Wine Advocate

Sandwiched between the Spanish territory’s highest peak—the snow-capped Mount Teide—and the Atlantic Ocean, the setting of the Suertes del Marqués vineyards is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular you will encounter. No less striking are the vineyards themselves: steep volcanic slopes blanketed by the ancient, indigenous varieties of the Canary Islands (many of the oldest vines are aged well over 100 years). The vines are managed using Tenerife’s unique, braided trellising system, el cordón trenzado, where multiple canes are literally plaited together to form long, twisted tentacles that can extend over 10 metres from the main trunk.
 
The remarkable setting, the indigenous varieties and the surreal trellising method are a pointed reminder that you have arrived somewhere wholly unique. Any culture shock is, however, quickly dispelled by the remarkable quality of the wines. Described by Jane Anson as “…a man who has made the wines of Tenerife part of the late-night conversation of sommeliers worldwide,” Jonatan García has succeeded in reminding the world as to why vines have thrived on the Canary Islands for centuries. 
 
García’s family had been winegrowers for decades before Jonatan took the leap to grow, bottle and market the wines under their own label in 2006. Covering 11 hectares of vineyards—fragmented into 20-plus plots at altitudes ranging from 350 to 700 metres—García’s vines are located on the volcanic slopes of Spain’s highest mountain in the cool, northern D.O. of Valle de la Orotava. García has a fondness for the great wines of Northern Europe and over the years the vineyard has been arranged according to Burgundy’s pyramid model, so alongside the villages blends from multiple parcels, there is an exciting range of single-vineyard vino de parcela wines. The growing and winemaking practices too, are hardly distinguishable from those employed by the sincerest growers worldwide: low-input organic viticulture (zero herbicides or other systemic treatments), cultivation by hand, the use of native yeasts and no fining or filtration. 

All Suertes vines are pie franco (ungrafted), and many are over 100 years old; phylloxera never conquered the Canaries. And, while most of the answers lie in soil, the low yields from these ancient vines also account for the intensity and depth of terroir character in the wines. The aspect and low pH guarantee freshness and Atlantic vibrance (the north of Tenerife is very green in strong contrast to the hot, dry south of the island and highly influenced by the northern Alisio winds) and this region’s fresh climate can be tasted in the invigorating structure of its wines.
 
Of course, García does not work alone; a good measure of the success that has come Suertes’ way has been garnered through his partnership with several of Iberia’s young gun winemakers. Today, the talented young vigneron Loles Pérez (ex-Dominio de Pingus and Tenerife’s Cráter) holds the fort alongside García, and deserves a great deal of credit for having nurtured these old vines into producing such exciting and beautiful wines. The story of this grower would also not be complete without mentioning Roberto Santana, whose work with García not only helped to define the style but would also inform his practice with the Envinate project. 
 
It’s been five years since we could last offer these wines. During that time, like every progressive domaine we work with, evolution has spread like wildfire. García has invested heavily in the vineyards, while the new cellar can handle as many as 50 ferments, allowing the winemakers greater flexibility. There has been a shift to less extraction and large-format oak, bestowing ever-greater soil-to-glass purity across the portfolio.
 
For those who have not tasted a Suertes del Marqués wine, the combination of little-known grapes, ungrafted vineyards and dramatic volcanic soils make for some of the most distinctive and delicious wines we ship. The whites are textural and mouth-filling; they ripple with energetic tangy fruit and salty freshness, touched by smoke and stone. If we were to search for a comparison, we might end up with a cross between Santorini and an unfortified Palomino Fino from Andalucía—so let’s not go there! The reds are characteristically lithe and lucid, with aromas and flavours of wildflowers, spicy fruit and garrigue and a distinctive peppery minerality from the volcanic soils. Whichever wine you go for, we can guarantee these bottles will intrigue—and hopefully delight—all who try them. 

The Wines

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