One of the Canary Islands not far from the coast of Morocco - Tenerife - is home to ancient prephylloxera vines and an incredible genetic diversity of grape varieties. Here, Listán Blanco (Palomino) & Listán Negro are King. Jonatan García Lima farms his old vines organically and makes nuanced natural wines from them.
LITTLEWINE caught up with Jonatan last time he was in London
"When you work the organic way, the vineyards are more beautiful—there’s a spontaneous cover crop and flowers. When you look at vineyards treated with herbicides, they look like a dark desert of dead things."
People: Jonatan García Lima
Place: Tenerife, Canary Islands
Varieties: Listán Negro, Listán Blanco, Vijariego Negro, Baboso Negro, Castellana Negra, Malvasia Rosada and Volcanic Torrontés
Hectares: 11 hectares spread over 25 plots
Wines: Click here
Did You Know?
While people might associate Tenerife with sunshine and beaches, the north and the south could not be more different from one another. Jonatan explains,
“The north side and the south side are like night and day. Depending on the vintage, the average rainfall is around five times more in the north than in the south, where it is warm and dry. The north is green.”
The majority of the cuvées produced in the cellar are red, from Listán Negro. The whites, meanwhile, are the cuvées Trenzado, which comes from the vineyards closer to the Teide volcano, and the cuvée Vidonia, which comes from soils with more clay in the middle of the valley. Jonatan says,
“I think the volcanic soils bring more rusticity, whereas the soils with more clay brings a great acidity to the wine and elegance in the mouth. It's great to make them one by one, as you can discover the different profiles.”
For the reds, already in May and June Jonatan analyses the vineyards and decides which sections of the single vineyards will go into the blends. The single vineyards have been kept separate for many years, in order to allow them to best express their elevation, orientation and soil type. He makes them all in the same way, explaining,
“I try to show what I have in my vineyard by doing the same with regards to the winemaking. If I start to make them in different ways – some whole bunches, some destemmed, some with or without temperature control, then I start to lose the soil.”
Thus, the name of the game here is natural fermentation in open vats, ageing in 500L and 228L neutral vessels. All single vineyards are vinified with whole bunches at cool temperatures, except for La Solana and Candio, which are produced with 50% whole stems, for easier drinking styles, and the blends, which are produced with just 10% whole bunches. They are always bottled unfined and unfiltered with very low sulphur additions, to keep the expression of the vineyards as natural as possible.