2018 Envinate Benje Blanco
Envínate, which literally translates as “Wine Yourself,” is the project of four young passionate winemakers: Roberto Santana (based in the Canaries), Jose Martinez (Almansa), Laura Ramos (Murcia) and Alfonso Torrente (Ribeira Sacra). The four met while studying oenology in Alicante in 2005 and formed a collective based on a shared philosophy of wine and a desire to explore the ancient, Atlantic influenced terroirs of western Spain.
In 2008, the group bought their first vineyard in Ribeira Sacra, then took control of vineyards on the north side of Tenerife, and followed with a single patch of Tinta Amarela in Extremadura. Finally, in 2012, the group began working with a site in Almansa, where Jose lives and works, planted to Garnacha Tintorera. In each region, they work old, previously abandoned vineyards, but importantly for a project with such spread, one of the team lives full time in each location, working the vineyards year round.
Benje refers to an area high above the cloud cover on the western edge of the Tiede volcano. It’s an area that produces markedly different wines, from the sappy freshness of the coastal zones but still carries the hallmark lightness of all of Envínate’s wines. Benje Tinto is straight Listan Prieto, Benje Blanco is Listan Blanco. Both are grown on a mixture of old ash and red clay at over 1000m above sea level.
The 2018 Benje Blanco comes from the south of the island and was produced with Listán Blanco, the local strain of Palomino. This is a blend of different plots of vey old vines at high altitude, 900 to 1,100 meters above sea level. The thing that is different about this wine is that 65% of the volume matured in concrete tanks under a veil of yeasts, flor, in search of a sharper texture rather than aromas or flavors, as these yeasts eat glycerin and make finer wines. The rest was aged in used 228-liter oak barrels with the lees and then was blended and bottled. This has lots of character, mixing the varietal notes with volcanic notes, and it is fresher (much fresher) than the 2018. There is a hint of flor on the palate, more of a texture than a set of flavors. The warm and cooler years are more challenging in the south of Tenerife (here) than in the north (Taganana and La Orotava). 2018 was much cooler, and the vines behaved well; the key is to keep the leaves because otherwise the grapes dehydrate rapidly. 21,500 bottles were produced. It was bottled in July 2019.
Luis Gutiérrez - Wine Advocate (Sept 2020)