Jonatan Garçia Lima of Suertes del Marqués wasn’t born into winemaking, his family bought vineyards in their native Tenerife the 90’s. Initially they sold their grapes, but in 2006 they started to make their own wines. Obviously some things have changed since those initial vintages. They have reduced yields and stopped using herbicides and systemic treatments, but they remain committed to working with the wealth of native varietals and traditional cordon trenzado training system that you find in the Orotava Valley. In the winery they also respect traditions, working by hand, using native yeasts and only minimal sulphur additions.
Volcanic wines have become ‘a thing’ recently, which is obviously beneficial to Suertes del Marqués. Do you worry about a loss of interest when consumers (and wine writers) move to the next hot topic?
Jonatan – Actually I worry more that people are pulling up our historic vines to plant avocados! 10% in Orotava have been pulled out, they get 3 Euros per kilo and they’re not as labour intensive as grapes.
For the last 6 years we’ve been popular, I want to sustain that momentum, I’d like to be a classic name, an integral part of wine lists in the future. I would like to get to a point where people don’t think “I’m ordering a volcanic wine”, but “I want to drink a Suertes del Marqués wine”.
I’m taking a long term view with Suertes, looking at the bigger picture. I don’t just want to be a cellar of fashion, I want to be a classic, I want people to say, “This is a great wine”.
Will anything need to change in order for that to happen?
JGL – We’re learning as time goes by, each vintage improves. We started making the wines in a extractive way, but gradually we have moved away from wood towards fresher wines, with lower alcohol, aiming for a longer finish and greater ageing potential.
There isn’t much precedent on how these smoky volcanic wines will age, how do you see them tasting as they mature?
JGL – Being a young project it is hard to tell. 7 Fuentes from 2008, despite being our entry level wine, has aged really well, it’s still incredibly alive. This made me think about the importance of alcohol levels and acidity.
Jonatan is particularly pleased with the 2016s, it was a warm vintage, but the wines are fresher than the 2015s as they took the decision to harvest earlier.
JGL – Early picking makes Listan Negro a completely new grape, it has a fresher style. Also previous to 2016 we de-stemed and added some stems back. This didn’t make sense, sometimes we were adding green tannins and the grapes get damaged by de-stemming. Since 2016 we’ve been using a percentage of whole bunch, higher for the single vineyards, and the tannins are better integrated. Generally we’re ‘working’ the wines less, and using longer macerations, and the result is a longer finish.
At this moment I’m very happy with the wines from the latest vintages. I think the single vineyard wines such as El Esquilon, El Chibirique, El Ciruelo and Los Pasitos will be tasting great in 10 years time. I think we are going to continue working in this way, but maybe in 10 years I could see that I was wrong!
Any new wines on the horizon?
JGL – I have a few projects. I’m working on some fortified wines and experimenting with Listan Blanco under flor, in a barrel from Ramiro Ibáñez who makes Cota 45 in Jerez. I’m aiming for a Jura style.
Also I read in an old book about the history of Tenerife that there are historical plantings of Souson,* I’m going to look for them!
We have a good range of the 2016s in stock with more 7 Fuentes and El Lance on the way, contact [email protected] or your sales rep if you’d like to discuss availability of specific wines. You can find out more information about Suertes del Marqués and the wines on our website.
*Souson can also be found in Galicia. Try Coto de Gomariz’s Flower and the Bee red.