The Canaries are hot. And we’re not talking about their status as a premiere vacation destination for Europeans. Nor the […]Keep Reading
The Canaries are hot. And we’re not talking about their status as a premiere vacation destination for Europeans. Nor the emerging wine culture that is rescuing the indigenous and bewilderingly obscure assortment of grape varieties and in the process, preserving their oldest vines. The Canaries are technically and geologically a hot spot, a place where a towering plume of magma has forced its way up through the crust of the earth to create a massive mountain range. The volcanoes that form the Canary Islands are some of the tallest mountains on Earth but with most of their impressive height hidden from view under the waters of the Atlantic ocean.
La Palma is the northwesternmost of the Canary Islands. It is dominated by the majestic Caldera de Taburiente, located in the north, and a spine of volcanic vents that form a steep ridge that runs from the caldera to the southern tip of La Palma. From the ocean floor to the peak of Roque de los Muchachos (2426m above sea level) the elevation of the massive volcano that forms La Palma is 7km. But La Palma is not done growing. Along with Pico Teide on Tenerife, they are the most active volcanoes in the Canaries with the last eruption on La Palma occurring in 1971. It is in this dramatic setting that Victoria Torres is preserving the legacy of her family’s estate, which dates back to 1885 – one of the oldest in the Canary Islands.
As the 5th generation steward of her family’s vineyards, Victoria took over from her father in 2010 after many years of working along side Juan Matías. The property has vineyard plots totaling just over 7 hectares and spread across the sub-zones of Hoyo de Mazo, Fuencaliente and Norte de la Palma. Being the most exposed of the Canary Islands, it receives higher rainfall in the winter and experiences warm, dry summers interrupted by alternating periods of wind and fog. As a result there are far more white varieties planted on La Palma than red, and this is reflected in the cuvées Victoria makes. Most of her vineyards are ungrafted, wind-blown, and 70-120 years old. When an old vine dies it is replaced by a shoot from a neighboring vine – a traditional practice called layering. Due to the isolation and sandy soils of La Palma, phylloxera has never been a problem. This method of vineyard preservation has maintained the genetic diversity of her vines. Her white varieties include Albillo Criollo, Listán Blanco, Diego Blanco, Malvasia. Her only red variety is Negramoll, a grape that was once widely-grown in Andalucia but which can not only be found on the Canaries, Madeira and a few isolated places in South America.
Victoria farms her vineyards following organic principals but she is not certified. All of the work is manual including the harvest. Vinifications are rudimentary and border on the primitive. There is no temperature control or refrigeration and in addition to stainless steel tanks, Victoria still employs centuries-old, tea-pine lagars and old French and American oak barrels for fermentation and aging. Victoria relies on spontaneous fermentation and despite all the seeming risks she takes with her methods, her wines are pure, vibrant and expressive. Naturally she bottles and labels everyhting by hand.Close