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La Palma is the northwesternmost island in the Canary Island chain, and among the youngest of the volcanic isles. An enormous caldera dominates the island, and the most recent major eruption was less than 50 years ago.Characterized by intense altitude variations (the highest peak rises nearly 2,500 meters above the sea) and a stark contrast between black ash soils in the south and the lush and very green north, it has a long history of viticulture, with grapes grown in the wide variety of microclimates across the island. In particular, La Palma was long known for its sweet Malvasía wines, which were treasured on both sides of the Atlantic in the 18th and 19th centuries. As the Canary Islands have managed to insulate themselves from phylloxera, these vineyards are living representatives of this history, with many vines dating back to the 19th century and beyond. All of the wines offered today come from ungrafted, own-rooted vines - and many of these vines are very old.
Victoria Torres Pecis and her family are an important part of that history. Based in Fuencaliente, on La Palma's southern tip, the Torres family have been farming the local grape varieties and making wine for five generations. Victoria Torres now works roughly seven hectares of vines spread across the island, from Fuencaliente in the south to Garafia in the north, where altitudes reach 1400 meters. The vineyards are planted with the indigenous varieties of the Canary Islands: Malvasía, Negramoll, Lístan Negro, Lístan Prieto, Albillo, and Forastera. Working organically and by hand, restoring old vineyards, Victoria produces wines of impressive purity and intensity. Her approach in the cellar is tradition and low-intervention. She ferments the grapes with indigenous yeasts in very old pine lagars or in stainless steel tanks, and she uses sulfur sparingly. Production is very limited, and we look forward to the arrival of our allocation of these wines every year.
We're also excited to highlight another producer from La Palma: Patricia Perdomo. Based in the province of Garafia in the town of Las Tricias, in the northern portion of the island, she is making a single wine from a single high-altitude, terraced, un-grafted vineyard planted to Lístan Negro, Lístan Prieto, Negramoll and other varieties. At 1200 meters above the sea and surrounded by Canarian pine trees, the vineyard is insulated from the influence of the Atlantic. This is another expression of La Palma's viticulture, very different from Victoria Torres' wines but also very compelling.
Victoria Torres makes this Clarete from two plots of mixed varieties (Negramoll, Albillo, Listan Negro, Listan Blanco, Forastera) in Mazo, in the Southeastern portion of La Palma. A field blend, this year's wine is somewhat darker, owing to the lower yields among the vineyards' white varieties. Indigenous yeast fermentation took place in various old oak barrels (French and American) and the wines aged in the same.
Las Rosas is on the east coast of La Palma: the plot is buffeted with intense winds. 100% Listan Negro, fermented in concrete.
Malvasia from La Palma has had a reputation for quality since the 17th century. Victoria Torres' expression of the grape variety is dry, aromatic, crystalline, and very special. Fermentation with indigenous yeasts in old foudres for nine months, then rested before blending and bottling.
Laderas is an old vineyard in La Palma's south on the steep slope of one of the volcanoes. The Negramoll from this site has a smokier, more intense character. Victoria Torres ferments these grapes with indigenous yeasts in old foudres before resting the wines for a year on the lees in the same.
Equal parts Listan Negro (from a seaside plot in the south) and Negramoll (from a high altitude plot further to the north), this wine unites the best qualities of the different microclimates and the two main red grapes of La Palma.
Victoria Torres' Negramoll comes from a variety of sites across the island at different elevations and in different microclimates. All of the vineyards are farmed organically, unirrigated, and ungrafted. Harvested at different times depending on their specific situation, they ferment separately in tanks and barrels with some stem inclusion before blending. The final wine ages for 12 months in old sherry casks.
Patricia Perdomo is based in Garafia, in the northern part of La Palma, where she organically farms a single hectare vineyard in the region of Briesta that is composed of a number of indigenous grape varieties: Listan Prieto, Listan Negro, Negramoll, and others. This is a truly special place: surrounded by Canarian pines, planted on ancient terraces, the vines are 1200m above the sea and typically above the cloud line. El Cantaro, is the only wine she produces, a blend of all of the varieties from the plot cofermented in the ancient method of the area. About 80% of the grapes are destemmed, ferment in open top vessels for about five days before resting in stainless steel for roughly a year. This shows savory notes of tea, smoke, stone and tiny red berries on the nose, while the palate is beautifully balanced, with delicate, grainy tannins around notes of macerated raspberries and cranberries and pomegranate layered on deep and dense volcanic minerality. Truly elegant. I recommend a quick decant to help this wake up and open fully. I can't stop thinking about this wine! Ben Fletcher