Atlante, Blanco de Canarias
Atlante, Blanco de Canarias

Atlante, Blanco de Canarias

Canary Islands, Spain 2020 (750mL)
Regular price$46.00

Atlante, Blanco de Canarias

No, you’re not seeing double, we are indeed following up this morning's exciting Canary Island discovery with a bonus offer of the white wine expression of Jesús González de Chávez’s talent and mastery of volcanic wines. Equal parts Listán Blanco and Albillo Criollo, grown at an even higher elevation of almost 2,000 feet, this vibrant, energy-infused white has enough minerality to impress even the most jaded sommelier. On a table full of some very famous (and more expensive) wines, this bottle was a shining star of distinct terroir purity. Complex, refreshing, and attention-grabbing are just a few of the adjectives that were lobbed around the tasting table, and then we went back for more. If you could combine Grand Cru Chablis with top-tier Grüner Veltliner, and then add a tiny pinch of Fino Sherry you might have something in Atlante Blanco’s ballpark . . . but it still wouldn’t be as good. Like its red sibling, there’s not much of this inaugural release, so don’t miss out!

If you missed the story of Canary Island wines, Tenerife, and Jesús González de Chávez this morning, here it is: Tenerife is the largest island in the Canary Archipelago, and it also boasts the tallest mountain in Spanish territory: Mount Teide. Not only is it the tallest in Spain, it is the third largest volcano in the world, so references to smoke and fire are no hyperbole: this is an active volcano that last erupted in 1909. Growing grapes and making wine has been a part of the culture of Tenerife for hundreds of years, going back to the Spanish conquest of the island from the indigenous Guanches people–descendants of North African Berbers who arrived on the island about 2000 years ago–when colonizers imported vine cuttings from Spain. Production was predominantly focused on fortified wines, similar to nearby Madeira, in order to supply the merchant shippers on voyages across the Atlantic. In the 19th and early 20th century, the wine industry shrank considerably, and by the 1950s the influence of two World Wars had all but wiped it out. However, in the past few decades, a small group of dedicated vignerons have labored tirelessly to bring Canary Island wines back into the global conversation.

Jesús González de Chávez is at the forefront of this resurgence. His family has been farming grapes and making a bit of wine (among other things) for generations, but like many grape growers in Tenerife their only real option for most of the 20th century was to sell their production to bulk wine producers. But Jesús knew that his small inheritance of vines had much greater potential. All the raw material here is a dream come true for someone seeking to make complex, terroir transparent wines: Thanks to soils rich in volcanic sand and basalt, the scourge of phylloxera never came to Tenerife, and so many of the vines here are well over a century old. Add to that a relatively dry, windy climate, plenty of sunshine, and a surrounding ocean to help moderate the heat, and you have the perfect ingredients for world-class wine.

The tiny production Blanco de Canarias that Jesús produces comes from a single parcel of vines called “Los Topes” that sits on a cool, windswept slope about 2,000 feet above sea level. The microclimate here leads to a very long growing season, with harvest usually occurring in mid-October, which in turn allows the fruit to achieve optimal ripeness without losing any mineral verve or acidic crunch. Listán Blanco is generally known as Palomino in Spain, and it lends a distinctly saline minerality to the wine along with blazing acidity, while Abillo Criollo adds some richness of texture and floral aromatics. Serve cool in an all-purpose stem and you’ll enjoy notes of lemon blossom, quince, green apple, wild fennel, star anise, key lime, jasmine, white pepper, and a touch of volcanic smoke. A perfect pairing for all things that come from the ocean, I think the below recipe for Spanish-style mackerel would be a spot-on companion to this delightful island gem.

Atlante, Blanco de Canarias

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