Cool Volcanic Wines!
A fabulous winter break to the beautiful island of Tenerife can help to revive the senses.
During the visit I decided to travel through the magical volcanic mountain range north of Los Gigantes where there were breath taking views of the magnificent coastline and the sparkling Atlantic Ocean. Deep into this mountainous range I caught sight of the highest mountain in all of Spain at over 12,000 feet, the strikingly majestic, snow capped Volcano Teide. I settled for a respite in the small (100 inhabitants) village of Masca with views down its silent gorge descending to a pretty beach.
Rest over, the bus went higher and further north heading towards Icod de Los Vinos, east of Garachico, to Bodega
Cueva Del Rey. There the group were greeted by the charming and gregarious owner Antonio Fernando who showed us
around one of his prized vineyards. We sampled together his 4 wines, a white, rose, red and sweet.
There is a unique microclimate here in the north west of the island that allows grapes to flourish at this 28 degree
latitude which would normally be too warm for vine growth.
The soil is volcanic which allows for good drainage and retention of water, both of which appear to be critical if the
rains are heavy and equally when there is little or no rain for long periods. Some of Fernando’s vines are situated
close to the Atlantic Ocean where they benefit from the cooling breezes. Others are grown at between 150 to 800
metres above sea level where it is much cooler. The cooling effects the vines by giving relief from the sometimes
oppressive heat and contributes to longer ripening which helps to give more flavour and increased acidity to the
final wine. The Scirocco (fierce Western Saharan desert winds) can bring clouds, fog and rain so this should also
mitigate the heat to some degree whilst giving much needed water to an area that would otherwise be quite desert
like. In addition, the trade winds bring a mist which provide a constant source of moisture. Overall rainfall is relatively
high especially when compared to the south part of the island.
Can we actually taste the effect volcanic soil has on the final style of the wine? Following is an excerpt from a
recently written article about the relationship of volcanic soil to the wines produced from it:
"There is, however, not a unique flavour profile attributed to volcanic soil, but is quite normal that the wines produced
there are often salty, good for ageing and come with aromas more complex - compared with wines produced with the
same variety in different soils," Ponchia explains (Giovanni Ponchia, Soave Consortia’s Lead Oenologist quoted from
an article, “Volcanic Soils Produce Unique Wine” in The South China Morning Post, by Daniel Scheffler, March 2015)
Other famous volcanic wine regions include: Sicily (Mount Etna), Madeira, Santorini and Willamette Valley in
Oregon. Tenerife is still relatively undiscovered but could well be the next up and coming island to go to and explore
for interesting wines.
Fernando’s vines are 50 years old so the berries are smaller with greater concentration which perhaps goes some
way to explaining why the wines were quite well defined and had a purity and richness about them.
Of the 4 wines sampled, only the rose was from the modern Ycoden-Daute-Isora DO wine region
(Denominacion de Origen) situated in the western part of the island. It is well worth noting that although this is a
relatively new DO (1994), the Canary Islands produced and exported wines
particularly from the Malvasia grape varietal in the 16th and 17th centuries where they were well known and appreciated.
Fernando mainly sells his wines at the Cellar door and to some local restaurants and shops.
The Cueva Del Rey Wines:
1.Cueva Del Rey Dry White 2014, Vino de Mesa, Tenerife (12.5%)
Light bodied and refreshing with some richness and streaks of fragrant lemon and pear fruit. Medium acidity. Made with the local Listan Blanco grape (also known as Palomino Fino used in Sherry) which is known for its fruitiness and softness. Fernando suggested Paella made with Octopus ink pasta (not rice) as a good food pairing.
2.*Cueva Del Rey Dry Rose 2014, Ycoden Daute Isora DO (12%)
Light pink colour, light to medium bodied with lively, quite defined and pure, fresh strawberry fruit. Medium acidity. Made from the native Listan Negra grape and macerated on the skins for 12 hours. Dreaming about Canarian lobster and crab to try with. My favourite!
3.*Cueva Del Rey Red, Vino de Mesa (14%)
Quite youthful with warming spice and liquorice underpinning rich red and black fruit. Medium bodied with medium acidity and aged 3 months in oak. Made with the native Listan Negra grape.
4.Cueva Del Rey Sweet White, Vino de Mesa (14%)
Sweet and medium bodied with rich honey, peach and apricot. Medium acidity. An unusual blend of Malvasia, Moscatel, Torrontes and the not so well known but lovely sounding Marmajuelo. Marmajuelo is said to only grow in the Canary Islands and is considered to be an excellent aromatic grape varietal with at least medium acidity. It is only grown in small quantities and must go some way to explaining the presence of fresh acidity in the wine. Imagining a Platanos fritos (fried bananas) dessert right now!
BODEGA CUEVA DEL REY
Camino Cueva del Rey, 8
38430 ICOD DE LOS VINOS , Tenerife, Canary Islands, SPAIN
Looking forward to the next wine adventure!
Owner of Cueva del Rey, Fernando with Antoinette