My recent article on Suertes del Marqués, the superstar estate of Tenerife, told the story of the island’s rebirth as a wine producing centre of real quality. Whilst Suertes del Marqués may lead the pack, I came across a number of very good wines from other island producers on a recent trip. Few hit the heights of Suertes del Marqués it’s true, but Viñátigo struck me as an excellent producer, and clearly the wines of this holiday island are on the up and up overall. Certainly that gives the island’s wine-loving visitors plenty to look forward to.
From a bodega founded in 1893, this was the house wine at Restaurant El Cine in Los Cristianos. They farm 10 hectares on soils composed of ash, lava and clay, and this introductory white in their range is made from Listán Blanco (Palamino). It is a dry, fresh, citrus and apple-centred wine with not a lot of complexity or layering, but there is a direct and savoury freshness and tangy acidity that meant it slipped down very well with my fish main course. 13 Euros in a restaurant.
(2016) The entry level white wine from Viñátigo, this is 100% Listán Blanco fermented in stainless steel and with only 12.5% alcohol. Drunk with Seabass for lunch on a terrace by the sea in the chilled out Rosso Sul Mare in la Caleta, it did cross my mind that this was the perfect white wine: fruity and with a herbal tang, medium-bodied yet not without palate weight and texture, and shimmering with soft but ever-present acidity to the last drop. Ultimately a fairly simple wine, but utterly delicious. 19 Euros on the list.
(2016) Made from 100 % Marmajuelo, another common island variety, this comes from a business founded in 1990 by the younger generation of a long line of grape farmers, based around their 100-year-old estate and dedicated to native varieties. Moving to a new facility in 1997 has helped improve the wines further and expand production. This is a lovely, limpid white wine, described to me as being ‘A bit like Chablis’ by the sommelier in a restaurant, and whilst it does have a limpid clarity and freshness, it is just overflowing aromatically with passion fruit and guava, in a much more vivacious style. It is easy drinking, despite very good acidity, but with a smooth weight of fruit and a hint of minerality too. Terrific and different. 23 Euros in a restaurant.
(2016) At restaurant Los Roques in Los Abrigos we were eating a lamb tagine, so thought we’d try this deeply coloured rosé that I’d seen another table order a few nights before in another restaurant. Frontos is a large and relatively new bodega, unusually sited in the south of the island, and using mostly replanted old vineyards. It also boasts what it claims is the highest vineyard in Europe, above the cloud layer on Mount Teide at 1700 metres. This blend of 70% Syrah with 30% Listán Prieto was abundantly fruity with a cherry cola and red liquorice, slightly confected appeal. Simple and quaffable stuff, it was a touch lacking fruit on the palate, but indeed did its job with the food very well. 84/100. 20 Euros in the restaurant.
(2016) An unoaked red, this is made from 95% Listán Negro and 5% Negramoll, the former being one of the more widely planted varieties of the Canary islands, a black-skinned version of the Palomino grape (known on the islands as Listán Blanco) that is the mainstay grape of Sherry. This is an inexpensive and easy-drinking wine, and I have to say delicious: boldly and vividly fruity on the nose, with some of the fruit brightness and sappy freshness of Gamay, but with a darker and weightier mid-palate hint of fat and texture. Highly quaffable and of very good quality. Only six Euros for a 50cl bottle in a local restaurant.
(2016) Dining in the excellent El Asador de la Finca in the small hill town of Camella, my first choice wine from the list was unavailable, so to accompany the fillet of beef and fillet of Iberico pork we’d ordered I asked the waiter to recommend a local wine. He jumped straight to this inexpensive red at 14 Euros on the list. It turned out to be a somewhat surprising choice given the food, but as a wine it was pretty good. It is Listán Negro, made with 100% carbonic maceration (as in Beaujolais) and no oak, leaving it fragrant, fruity and relatively light. I enjoyed its elegance, its soft tannin structure and its balance, as well as its buoyant black berry fruit, though it barely stood up to the excellent barbecued steak.
(2016) Aged for 12 months in French oak, this is 100% Baboso Negro, a Portuguese variety otherwise known as Bastardo, that is making something of a comeback on Tenerife. It’s a big plush rendition, a solid and glossy wine of great substance, that comes as something of a shock as I drank it at lunch immediately following a visit to Suertes del Marques, whose version was full of nervous energy and a certain ‘wild’ natural element. This is mouth-filling with black fruits, just a hint of pepper and spice, and a rounded mouth-feel ending with smooth tannins and creamy oak.