Alfonso Torrente, José Ángel Martínez, Laura Ramos and Roberto Santana met while studying Oenology at the University of Alicante in southeastern Spain and discovered they shared the same vision about wine. As a result, they founded Envínate, a venture combining wine consulting and their own range of wines, most of which are made in regions where they work as consultants and where they can easily rent space at their clients’ bodegas.
The most remarkable thing is that, in a short period of time, they have pioneered a new way of making wine in Spain. They are great advocates of fresh, Atlantic-style wines that reflect local soils and grape varieties. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that their two most important projects are in the Canary Islands and in Galicia’s Ribeira Sacra.
A former consultant for Suertes del Marqués in Valle de la Orotava (Canary Islands), Roberto Santana leads the Envínate project in the area. It is based on Taganana (Anaga), on the far northeastern corner of the island, where very old vineyards with multiple varieties are still grown. Under the brand Táganan, the area’s ancient name, they produce two entry-level wines, a red and a white (around €15 in Spain, 6,000 bottles made for the white; 4,000 for the red) and the two single-vineyard wines Parcela Amogoje (white) and Parcela Margalagua (red) sourced from two very old plots worked by local vinegrower José Ángel Alonso. Both of them retail at €23 and production is below 1,000 bottles.
Since 2016 they work in the old cooperative bodega in Santiago del Teide, an area at 1,000 metres above sea level on the northwest of the island with a wealth of bush vines, many of them with 60-120 years of age and grape varieties such as Listán Prieto, Listán Blanco and Tintilla. They work with a group of local winegrowers and make a red called Benje (the name given to the crater next to the Teide volcano in the old Guanche language), and since the 2016 vintage, they also make Benje Blanco (14,50 €. Both wines reflect the region's continental climate, with little rain and heavily exposed to the sun, in contrast to Taganana.
Since 2016 they work with three winegrowers in La Orotava, a valley that descends down the north side of the Teide volcano, half way between Taganana on the east and Santiago del Teide on the west. Their idea is to release at the beginning of 2018 a white wine from a plot they work in La Piñera, a cool and shaded area known for its vertical wines, and a red Listán Negro from traditionally braided cordon vines, which blends two plots: San Antonio (fruitiness) and La Habanera (minerality).
Alfonso Torrente, who was born near Ribeira Sacra, added Galicia to the Envínate’s portfolio. Vineyards are planted on steep slopes over the Miño and Sil rivers on this extreme, rugged region. Lousas is their Galician brand, the local name for the slate soil found in the region. Lousas Viño de Aldea (€15.5, 7,000 bottles) is a regional red with grapes sourced from Amandi, Ribeiras do Sil and Bibei subzones. Two single-vineyard reds are also made from plots located in Amandi: Parcela Seoane and Parcela Camiño Novo (both around €24 in Spain, less than 1,000 bottles). Mencía is the main grape in the area but other varieties such as Merenzao or Garnacha Tintorera (Alicante Bouschet) are usually found alongside. In Camiño Novo, for instance, 10% Garnacha Tintorera is blended in with Mencía. All of them are juicy, spicy, fresh reds with plenty of herbs, a clean palate and good persistence. From the 2017 vintage, Envínate wines in this region will be sold outside of the DO Ribeira Sacra.
In Extremadura, where Envínate handles the winemaking for Palacio Quemado, they make T. Amarela Parcela Valdemedel (around €16), a single vineyard red made from Trincadeira Prieta, a variety that is very well adapted to the area. This is a floral, herbaceous, fruit-driven red with plenty of juiciness that stands out from the standard warm, high-alcohol reds in the region.
Considering that Laura was born in Murcia and José Ángel just a bit further to the north in Albacete, in southeast Spain, this region has understandably been chosen by the team to be part of their portfolio. Albahra (€11, 13,000 bottles) is an unusually light, fresh blend of Garnacha Tintorera and the indigenous obscure grape Moravia Agria.
The Envínate team always looks for distinctive vineyards and they adapt winemaking practices to each vintage, which means that whole cluster fermentation may or may not be used in their wines. They use natural yeasts, work in a reductive style, protect wines with carbonic and avoid racking after malolactic fermentation so vigorous aeration is recommended before serving these wines. Ageing takes place in 228l. to 600l. barrels to avoid an excess of oak. Sulphur dioxide is only added prior to bottling.