Suertes del Marqués
In recent years, the Canary Islands have made headlines in travel publications other than tourism and sun beaches. Wine lovers have discovered the island group and its wine production tradition dating back to the 15th century. One of the busiest wineries in the Canary Islands is Suertes del Marqués from Tenerife, a family producer specializing in high-quality natural wines. The characteristically mineral wines of the winery located in Orotava in the northern part of Tenerife have earned, among others , applause from Decanter and a recommendation from Jancis Robinson .
Orotava Valley, DO Valle de la Orotava, is one of the oldest wine regions in the Canary Islands. Winemaking began already in the 15th century, when the Spanish conquered the island group. However, the region received the official DO quality classification only in 1995. For a long time, Orotava's reputation was based on the production of sweet Malmsey wine, which was shipped from the port city of Orotava to the mainland. The Spanish exported wine to their partners in England, Holland and Germany. When the relations between the countries withered due to the Dutch struggle for independence at the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries, Tenerife's flourishing wine export also withered. Only in recent years have the region's wines really started to interest a wider international audience and the export market is on the rise.
Viticulture in the Orotava region is concentrated on the slopes of Pico del Teide, one of the highest volcanoes in the world. The climate in the north of Tenerife is drier than the south, but the alicios winds blowing from the Atlantic bring moist air to the coastal area of Pico del Teide. Both red and white grape varieties are grown on Pico del Teide, such as Listán Negro and Blanco (also known as Palomino), Malvasia, Negramol, Bastardo Negro and Blanco, Tintilla and several other varieties that are rarer elsewhere. Viewed from continental Europe, thanks to the remote location and the sandy soil, the area has been spared from grape aphids, and most of the vines are ungrafted and up to 200-250 years old.
On the Suertes del Marqués farm, grapes have been grown in the orchards acquired for the needs of other wineries since 1986. Francisco Javier, the father of the current winemaker, Jonatan García Lima, originally acquired the orchards to relax on the weekends from his daily life as a furniture maker. The idea was to make a little wine for myself and friends, but with the increase in the number of orchards, the production of grapes also grew so much that the gentleman started selling his grapes to other producers as well. The first wines were produced under the farm's own name in 2006. After watching the farm's winemaking from the sidelines for ten years, Jonatan decided to leave his job at the family's furniture company in 2016 and take responsibility for winemaking himself. For support and help, Jonatan asked winemaker Luis Seabra from Portugal's Douro Valley.
Today, the family producer's vineyards cover an area of just over 11 hectares. The shelters are located on the coast at an altitude of 300-750 meters. The vineyards are oriented north and east, towards the Atlantic Ocean. The slopes vary between 20 and 40 degrees. Suertes del Marqués also cooperates with local wine growers. The vineyards of the partners cover an area of approximately 15 hectares. The height differences of these shelters vary between 250 and 800 meters. The climate in the northern parts of Tenerife is not too harsh in the winter and not too hot in the summer, which allows the grapes to be harvested when they are ripe, but not yet producing too much alcoholic wine. Often in the middle of summer, the sky is conquered by cloud cover, which means that the grapes retain their natural freshness. The growing season is also long, so the grapes accumulate a wide range of aromas and flavors. The soil in the shelters is mainly volcanic and rich in minerals, being sandy on the upper slopes and clayey on the lower slopes.
Suertes del Marqués relies on varieties typical of the region, and due to the steepness and ideology of the orchards, the work steps are done manually. The winegrowers of the region prefer the world-rare Cordon Trenzado technique in their vineyards. Trenza refers to tying, which well describes the tying of the vine. In the Cordon Trenzado method, several vines are as if wrapped into three-meter-long "braids" about 60-80 centimeters above the ground. Suertes del Marqués is one of the advocates of the Cordon Trenzado tradition. In the farm's oldest vineyards, Listan Negro, Listan Blanco and Perdro Ximénez vines that are over 100 years old, up to ten meters tall, tied with the "flattening technique" grow. The technique requires a lot of manual work and care from the farmer. On the other hand, it enables mixed planting, where other crops such as potatoes can be grown between the vines. The popularity of polyculture has been on the wane in recent decades, as farmers have begun to invest more and more in the production of quality wines instead of self-sufficient agricultural production. The breeding method is neither cheap nor ergonomic, but part of the region's cultural history, which Jonatan wants to cherish.
The farm follows organic principles and no pesticides have been used in the animal shelters since 2010. Due to the differences in altitude, the harvest usually takes 2 months as the grapes in different orchards ripen at different times. The rule of thumb in winemaking is minimal intervention - extra measures affecting the natural development of the wine are avoided and sulfur dioxide additions are kept to a minimum. In the Suertes del Marqués wine cellar, the bunches of grapes are crushed with feet and spontaneously used for wine both in traditional concrete containers and in more modern steel tanks. Aging takes place in concrete or neutral French foudre barrels. The use of oak is moderate: the aim is to age it elegantly, not to change the authentic character of the wine.
Suertes del Marqués was just selected as one of the estates on Wine & Spirits Magazine's Top 100 Wineries of 2022 list.