Friday night tasting: 300-year-old vines? Yep. Envínate.
The extraordinary and rare wines of Envínate
$12 / 6-8 PM / no reservations needed
A few years ago, I tasted a white wine that, without proper warning, changed me forever. It was a wine made from listán blanco (aka palomino fino), a grape that I was familiar with, but had foolishly dismissed as merely a bland grape best employed as the base wine for Sherry. But, when importer José Pastor brings me something new to try, I listen, and taste. This wine, from the Canary Islands, is made by a group of growers I was not familiar with, enology school friends who were beginning to make wine together as an exploration of Atlantic-ocean influenced terroir. Old vines, organic farming, low yields, aging in large old barrels. I still think about that wine, from a vintage long gone, and how it became an object lesson for me, a lesson to be open and unprejudicial with regards to wine, because how in the hell do you know that you’ve ever tried THE wine made from a certain grape? It’s a hard lesson to follow. You might dismiss apples, but later realize after you taste a perfect Pippin that you’d only ever had a mealy Red Delicious.
Tonight, we’re lucky to have on hand a modest supply of three unique wines from Envínate. The wines have gotten to be quite scarce, nearly unicorns, but that’s OK: it means folks are really digging them. These are 180 degrees from the burly, froot-bomb wine sensibility that continues to plague many Spanish wine regions. They’re lighter, less alcoholic, less extracted, and all have an interesting story to tell us. Like the Táganan blanco we’re starting with tonight, the very same wine that blew my mind years ago. It’s from an insane parcel of very, very, very old vines, some of which are over 300 years old. Mostly listán blanco, it also contains other varieties, some known (e.g., as if this helps, marmajuelo and gual), but also some old varieties of which no one knows their name. The vines grow wild, and the growers use zero chemicals in their vineyards. Everything is done by hand. Whatever the opposite of bland is, this is it. Dry, salty, smoky, it encapsulates both the past and perhaps future of Spanish wine.
*Text borrowed from Lou Wine Shop, 1911 Hillhurst, Los Angeles, CA 90027