The Best of the Old World But Unique Unto Itself
Almost a thousand miles south of Jerez, off the coast of Morocco lies one of the most untouched, surreal terroirs in all of winemaking: the Canary Islands. The New York Times’ Eric Asimov said of the island’s wines, “I was especially taken by the reds, which, whatever the blend of grapes, offered lovely aromas and flavors,” and Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate plainly called Suertes des Marques one of two “quality leaders” there. Echoing those sentiments is our own Master Sommelier, Sur Lucero. After a tireless effort to secure an exclusive U.S. allocation of this 2014 Medianías Red Blend, Sur had this to say: “Every so often you come across a grape that reminds you of so many other wines that you love, but is unique unto itself. This Medianías has clarity reminiscent of Burgundy, a peppery meatiness of Côte-Rôtie, a fine-grained tannin profile of an elegant Barbaresco, and a fresh liveliness of great Cru Beaujolais — yet it has its own soul. Culled from little-known grapes ripening on 150-year-old vines rooted at over 1,800 feet in elevation on Tenerife island overlooking the Atlantic.” All that for $24.99 per bottle plus 92 points from Parker’s Advocate? A lucky few of you will heed Sur’s advice and lock into the 35 cases up for grabs and be quite thankful you did.
The Canary Islands technically belong to Spain, but are a whole strange world of their own, forgotten by time and modern convention — the oldest of the Old World. “These wines and this place on the earth, show great potential as the next undiscovered wine, from a far off place,” says Master Sommelier Sur Lucero. “I will for sure be buying some for my cellar!”
Grown at over 1,800 feet above sea level, the Medianías comes from the island of Tenerife, particularly the sub-zone of Orotava Valley. Volcanic soils abound here, and the vines have to be trained in an unconventional braided cordon, so that they can be easily moved out of the way during the spring and early summer season to allow for room to grow other crops. They look like no other vineyard you’ve ever seen. Additionally, they’re all own-rooted, as phylloxera has never come to the islands, due to their isolation.
Lack of rainfall, and the incredibly unique volcanic soils have given rise to a particular style of viticulture unlike anywhere else. As unique as the vineyards are, the grape varieties are even more of a surprise. Listán Negro was considered so highly in the 16th century that it was the exclusive variety brought by the first monks to settle the New World. Vijariego Negro is the same as the obscure Catalonian Sumol. Titilla is known on the mainland as Graciano. The blend is calculated to express place — this is ancient winemaking at its very finest, allowing varieties to harmonize together in the glass.