Mattias I Torres: Wines as Beautiful as the Region Itself
As most of you know by now, here at Some Good Wine, we love us some Canary Islands. So much, that we supposedly have the largest selection in the U.S. and possibly the world. But enough bragging, let's discuss today's spotlight. Even though we always have a large selection, there is simply very little wine made in the Canary Islands and with more demand, even less in 2018 and into the beyond. Our focus today, Matias I Torres, has the double negative of not only being small and highly sought after, but naturally produced; meaning, amongst other things, even smaller production than some of her neighbors.
Apart from natural production, the wines of Matias I Torres are unique in that they stem from the island of La Palma. That is not unique in and of itself as the island has been making wine for centuries, only that we don't see it here in the U.S. too often. Like the island of Lanzarote (think Los Bermejos) La Palma is black volcanic soil and hence, these are smoky, gritty wines; terroir driven in every shape and form. Don't let the term "natural" throw you off. Yes, these are earthy and somewhat weird, but not so out there in comparison to most of the others you may have tried from us. The reds are perhaps a bit lighter and more airy but the whites still contain the same gritty, gluey smokiness that we have come to know and love. Here's a little more info:
Victoria Torres Pecis is now the sole owner and caretaker of her family’s centenarian winery. Temperatures soar to volcanic heights, and the vineyards are constantly whipped by Atlantic winds. Since her father’s death in 2015, Victoria (Vicky) has been working alone against the elements and the picón - the dark ashy sand that covers the soil - where most of her vines are grown. “I am like the Listán Blanco”, she says, “very resistant…” She has to be. Much of her work is that of restoration: first finding available vineyards and convincing growers to let her work their vines, and then rescuing dying plants and improving the general health of the plots.
Her quest for purity takes her from the vineyards she owns in Llanos Negros (a plot in the southwest side of the island planted with Malvasía Aromática, Sabro, and a bit of Negramoll) all the way to the northern side of the Island, in Tinizara, where the landscape changes radically with lush vegetation and incredible vistas, above the sea of clouds. Here she works vineyards at more than 1300 meters of altitude planted with Negramoll, a variety she mastered. Another site, a bleak-looking old vineyard planted on picón called “Las Machuqueras”, on the southern slopes of the San Antonio volcano, gives her Negramoll, Diego (aka Bujariego aka Vijariego Blanco), and Listán Blanco. This plot has been with the family for generations, and due to her work it is (unofficially) recognized as the Islands most prized lieu-dit.
In total she works herself 4.7 hectares, with 2 of them in property, and the rest rented. There is some purchased fruit from growers she works with throughout the year. Her bodega is in Fuencaliente, on the southern side. It was there that she first learned her craft by watching her father use an old lagar to press the native grapes and vinify his wines in chestnut barrels. Not much has changed since the early days. The winery is small and contains a few stainless steel tanks and old French and American oak, as well as the chestnut barrels which are still in use. All fermentation is done with native yeasts, and temperatures are not controlled. Her wines have a stunning purity and vibrancy, achieved through her patient, meticulous work.
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