If the world of Canary wine has a mysterious place with hidden ancient treasures waiting to be discovered, that place can be called Táganana, an isolated village on the north-east side of Tenerife, where unidentified ancient grape varieties still grow wild on volcanic rocks above the Atlantic Ocean the same way they did more than 500 years ago.
"It's like a Jurassic Park of viticulture" says Roberto Santana, one of the members of Envinate and, a true son of Tenerife himself.
In the early 15th century, sugar cane was Táganana's primary agricultural commodity. It was mainly sold in San Cristóbal de La Laguna (Tenerife's old capital) via El Camino de las Vueltas, a road which was specifically built for transporting the sugar cane into the capital. Yet, according to some folks, winemaking in Táganana goes all the way back to 1501, the year in which the village was officially founded.
"There are vines here going back to the XVI century." says Mr. Santana.
One thing is for sure, Táganana is a magical place.
I vividly remember my first visit there. It was early in the morning and it took us a pretty yet curvy ride to get there from Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the current capital of Tenerife.
As we were approaching the village of Táganana, Roberto suddenly stopped the car in a curve on the middle of the road. I thought it was an emergency stop. You know, shit happens while on the road. But then he ordered us to get out of the car. I took my camera with me thinking he wanted to show us the gorgeous views of the Atlantic Ocean, but as we were walking towards the curve he stopped again on top of what appeared to be a cliff and said "Down here, look, this is Parcela Amogoje".
At first I thought he was just joking with us, but he proceeded to walk down, and that's when I realized "This is Not a Joke".
I have seen some picturesque vineyards before, Hermitage and Ribeira Sacra are some that come to mind, but nothing comparable or as dramatic as Parcela Amogoje and Táganana, where unknown ancient grape varieties were growing wild (untrained) out of volcanic rocks above the imposing Atlantic Ocean.
The smell in the air was insanely delicious, if not magical. Mountain wild herbs, sea salt and beeswax aromas, they all seemed to be mixed together, almost as if the Atlantic Ocean got married to the Táganana Valley that same morning.
What a wonderful place, I thought.
Roberto's face seemed happy.
Did Mr. Santana find a "Grand Cru" in Táganana?
Well, not exactly, at least legally speaking.
Yet, it seems like he knew since the beginning Parcela Amogoje was a rare ancient treasure. A one-of-a-kind type of creature.
Two years later, this is what American wine writer John Gilman of View from the Cellar, a bi-monthly newsletter that "seeks to celebrate the world's great traditional wines and the inspired artisans who produce them", had to say about the first wine ever made out of Parcela Amogoje:
"The 2012 Táganan Blanco “Parcela Amogoje” from Envínate is made from a field blend of hundred year-old, wild vines, growing on volcanic soils one hundred to two hundred meters above the Atlantic Ocean. The vines are untrained, running wild on the ground and are on their own, indigenous rootstocks, as phylloxera has never been know on the Canary Islands. The vineyard is owned by José Angel Alonso, and the wine is fermented in one year-old, five hundred liter oak barrels and aged one year on its fine lees prior to bottling. The 2012 is truly spectacular, soaring from the glass in a deep and complex mix of candied lime peel, pear, briny soil tones (very reminiscent of grand cru Chablis, only saltier, if this makes any sense), beeswax, lemon blossoms and just a whisper of vanillin oak from the one year-old demi-muid. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and impeccably balanced, with the palate authority of aged Bâtard-Montrachet, lovely acids, great focus and grip and a very, very long and utterly refined finish. This is a brilliant wine that totally transcends anything I have ever tasted from the Canary Islands, and really is quite reminiscent of medium-aged grand cru Côte de Beaune, albeit, with completely different aromatic and flavor profiles. Stunning Juice!"
Indeed Mr. Santana,"This is Not a Joke".
Post scriptum: A couple of new "vinos de pueblo" or village wines from Táganana or Táganan as the Guanches used to say, will hit the port of Oakland, Calif next week. Stay tuned Folks!