Beginning in 2008, a quartet of friends fresh out of eonology school launched Envínate. To this day, Roberto Santana, Alfonso Torrente, Laura Ramos, and José Martínez have been making wines from Spain's Tenerife to Ribiera to Spain's Mediterranean coast, all in the name of old vine parcels and the preservation of Spain's indigenous grapes. With the release of the 2018 vintage from Tenerife, Wine Advocate's Luis Gutiérrez awarded the wines high scores, catapulting Envínate to wine stardom. However, the minuscule production, geographical obscurity, and general level of mysticism shadow the wines from spending too much time in the limelight. Frankly, I never truly understood Envínate until I enjoyed a 2015 Lousas followed by a tasting inclusive of current releases from Tenerife (2021 & 2022) alongside a few library wines with a minimum of five years of bottle age. What I am about to tell you may not be my most brilliant sales tactic, but it is undoubtedly the honest truth. And that is age your Envínate.
Envínate produces ten different cuvées from the harsh and unforgiving climate of Tenerife. In general, the climate of the three sites is really quite different. An interesting shorthand is that Santiago del Teide is Continental, Orotava is Mediterranean and Taganan is Oceanic. While this isn't an exact science its does illustrate how different the effects of changes in precipitation and heat are throughout this tiny island. With that, these are some of the most exciting wines from Spain, with one important caveat. They need bottle age, a minimum of three years.
On Sept 15, 2023, Envínate's importer José Pastor, hosted a tasting featuring the current releases of Envínate's 2022s & 2021s from Tenerife. José Pastor featured the young wines alongside a library wine for each cuvée. Having always experienced these wines in their fairly reductive youth, I was blown away by what I uncovered. And that is age your Envínate.
While there were about twenty wines open, I have only included tasting notes for the wines available at One Kourt Studio and their corresponding library wine. As you will notice, my tasting notes are quite blunt for the young wines. In their youth, these wines are at their least expressive, wound up, tight, and reductive. Only on occasion, offering a whisper of pretty organic elements and mineral vivacity but just barely enough to display what lays beneath their youthful, impenetrable intricacies. The library releases are far more expressive and seductive. They are complex and terroir-driven; the time necessary in bottle is made unquestionably apparent by this tasting.
Unfortunately, there are no library wines for purchase, so you must age them on your own time in order to uncover their natural beauty. But you will be well rewarded for your patience.
The Line Up: ENVINATE TENERIFE
SANTIAGO DEL TEIDE: The northwest slope of Teide, dramatic diurnal shifts, and volcanic soil with clay. Elevation 1,000m
Benje Bianco 2022 $32: Flinty, lemon oil, dry and salty. Notes of white peach, quince, and underripe pineapple.
Benje Bianco 2016: savory lemon-lime, saline, mineral, the charm of excellent Chablis or Etna Biano but not necessarily comparable.
Benje Tinto 2022 $32: red fruited, reductive, smokey, and herbal
Benje Tinto 2016: Nebbiolo of the Canary Islands, savory, red-fruited, balanced structure of grainy lifted tannins
VALLE DE LA OROTAVA: one of the first places planted to vines in Tenerife, basalt and clay soil, cooled by winds and shaded by fog, historic vine trellising: Cordón Trenzado. Elevation 600m-900m
Palo Blanco 2021 $55: smokey, flinty, green apple, saline. Needs 3-4 years
Palo Blanco 2017: Saline, volcanic rock, green apple, a slightly nutty note of almond skin, Jura esc but not oxidized, tangerine
TAGORTONTE-ACENTEJO: 100-year-old vines, trained low to the ground, sand and clay over red basalt, Elevation 350m-650m
La Santa de Ursula 2021 $58 (the first release was 2020. no side-by-side offered): burly red fruits, volcanic rock, deep red fruitednotes. Needs 4 to 5 years. Although this wine is relatively closed, I greatly look forward to its progression in bottle.
TÁGANANA: Wild rock formations, impossibly steep cliffs, and ancient vines. Sand and clay over basalt with mineral deposits. The Margalagua parcel is known for its hard red basalts.
Táganan Blanco 2022 $55: smokey, flinty, Mediterranean herbs, mid-weight, tangerine oil
Táganan Blanco2018 (Magnum): Green apple, flint, long finish, complexities of smoke, almond skin, tangerine, apple blossom, oregano, waxy texture.
Envínate is the brainchild of four friends fresh out of enology school in 2005. Roberto Santana, Alfonso Torrente, Laura Ramos, and José Martínez were in search of old vines in obscure places throughout Spain. Preservation and tradition are of utmost importance to this gang of four. They work with indigenous Spanish grape varieties such as Mencía, Brancellao, Listán Negro & Listán Blanco (Palomino). They never use any chemicals. Grapes are foot trodden, wild yeasts are used for fermentation, and used barrel or cement for elevage to preserve the fruit's integrity from vine to bottle.