Lanzarote is the easternmost of the Canary Islands, situated just 100km from the continent of Africa. The warmest and driest […]Keep Reading
Lanzarote is the easternmost of the Canary Islands, situated just 100km from the continent of Africa. The warmest and driest part of the Canaries, it receives a scant 6 inches of rainfall in an average year. Subjected to nearly constant winds blowing off the Sahara desert, known locally as alicios, this would be a challenging place to grow vines even if they were not planted on a vast and volatile volcanic fissure. The lunar landscape of Lanzarote was largely formed by an eruption that lasted from 1730 to 1736, which covered 200 square km of the islands with up to 3 meters of ash and lapilli. Viewed from space, this island’s most notable features are a series of calderas pockmarking a black sand and ash desert that dominates the northwestern part of the island – Los Volcanes National Park.
The volcanic devastation of the 18th century proved to be a boon for viticulture. Adapted to harsh conditions, varieties like Listán Blanco and Negro, Negramoll, Malvasía, and Diego were replanted on Lanzarote starting shortly after the eruption. To overcome the twin obstacles of the alicios and the meters of dry, free-draining volcanic lapilli, farmers in Lanzarote developed a unique practice of viticulture – the iconic hoyos of Lanzarote. Hoyos are hand-dug depression, sometimes up to two meters deep, with a single vine planted in the bottom. The depth of the hoyos allows the vine to access the moisture present several meters below the surface of the volcanic topsoil while also protecting it from the alicios. The most exposed hoyos are also partially surrounded by walls, abrigos to add an extra layer of protection from the constant winds. Combined, these two features have become the indelible visual image of grape-growing in Lanzarote. No matter what elevation you view Lanzarote, the overwhelming impression is that of a landscape of craters – natural and human-made.
The raw materials of Lanzarote – the stark beauty, unique viticulture, indigenous and ancient vines have been on the mind of Rayco Fernandez for many years. A wine exporter based in Gran Canaria, Rayco had waited patiently for over a decade for someone to discover the potential of Lanzarote. Puro Rofe was created from his abiding interest in Lanzarote, impatience, and the friends he made there. While Rayco was the impetus for its creation, Puro Rofe is a collaboration among local, like-minded grape growers Rafael (Chicho) Mota, Ascension Robayna, and Pedro Umpiérrez. They tend vineyards surrounding Los Volcanes in La Geria, Tinajo, Masdache, and Testeyna, and all practice organic farming. Puro Rofe is based in La Geria at Chicho Mota’s small, museum-like bodega, which preserves many traditional winemaking tools on Lanzarote – lagars, basket presses, and concrete vats which are now supplemented with clay amphorae as well.
The initial release (2017) was a white and a red made from a diversity of vineyards sites and varieties. With 2018 seeing the release of their first parcel wines: Tilama, Masdache, Chibusque & Chaboco.Close