Winding their way up a steep hillside of volcanic rock, bathed in equal measure by the equatorial sun and the moisture-laden trade winds you will find the vineyards of Suertes del Marqués. Like many other producers in the Canary Islands, Suertes is both a museum and a laboratory of ancient grape varieties. The dizzying array of grapes is almost Portuguese in their obscurity and the temperaments of owner Jonatan Garcia Lima and winemaker Luis Seabra are patiently dedicated to allowing the potential of these soils speak through their brilliantly transparent wines. These wines taste volcanic: vibrant and mineral.
The Valle de la Orotava is one of the oldest wine growing regions in the Canary Islands centered around the port of Orotava. Originally a center of Malmsey production, the region had a reputation for fortified white wines. Listán Negro and Blanco (aka Palomino), Malvasia and Malvasia Rosada, Negramoll, Bastardo Negro and Blanco, Moscatel and Moscatel Negra, Tintilla, Vijariego and Vijariego Negro, Gual, Verdello, Forastera Blanca, Torrontés, Marmajuelo and Pedro Ximénez are the grapes you can find growing in this DO located on the north coast of Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands. Precariously rooted on the slopes of Pico del Teide – the world’s third largest volcano – these soils are, needless to say, profoundly volcanic. In fact, there is little other soil on the Island that wasn’t spewed out by Teide or broken down from the native vegetation that thrives here. The north of the island is drier than the south but is refreshed by condensation from the trade winds known locally as alicios.
Due to its isolation from continental Europe and the sandiness of the soils, most of the vines are ungrafted. Another unique feature of the DO is the training of the vines into braided cordons known as el cordon trenzado. This system made it easy to practice polyculture in within a vineyard so a farmer could harvest grapes and vegetables from the same plot.
There is an amusing quote in John Radford’s The New Spain regarding the Valle de la Orotava DO, “All the wine the DO makes is swallowed up by the local market; thus, while there is pressure to maintain quality control and development, it seems unlikely that this will lead to export potential.” The quote is from the revised edition published in 2004 just two year before the founding of Suertes del Marqués by owner Jonatan Garcia Lima. In the few short years since founding the estate, Suertes has become one of the most talked about producers in the Canary Islands.
The cellar is surrounded by 9ha of vines divided into several plots. The elevation ranges from 250 to 700 meters with a variety of exposures, mostly northern and eastern. The grade of the site is very steep at anywhere between 17-38% so most of the work in the vineyard is manual. The oldest blocks are planted with 100 year-old vine Listan Negro, Listan Blanco and Pedro Ximénez – La Solana, El Barranco & Los Pasitos I. Two additional plots are over 80 years old with Listán Negro and Blanco in El Ciruelo and Listán Negro in El Esquilón. All these older blocks are trained in el cordon trenzado. The remaining blocks on the property were planted from 2000 to 2007 with Tintilla, Listán Negro, Baboso, Vijariego, Listán Blanco and Albillo. These newer vines are planted in double cordon for the most part with the exception of the Listán Negro and Baboso Negro in Las Terrazas which are head-pruned.
Suertes del Marqués is offered through Verity exclusively in Pennsylvania.