Outside the Box: 94+ pt. Canary Island Greatness in Witheringly Small Quantities

Posted on: 08/17/18 12:00 PM


Suertes del Marqués’s little masterpiece ‘El Ciruelo’ is a hymn to bright, mouthwatering elegance – and the Canary Islands’ indefinable rustic charm. Chilled or cellar temperature, this is irresistibly delicious and among the most compelling wines we’ve tried all year.


2015 Suertes del Marques “El Ciruelo” $39.99 NET

“Always a favorite of mine, the 2015 El Ciruelo didn’t disappoint. The old vineyard that the wine is named for gets its name because there is an old plum tree in the middle of the rasta-looking vines (ciruelo means plum tree in Spanish), and it’s the vineyard with the poorest soils of all the ones they work and tends to deliver complex wines. It’s mostly Listán Negro with perhaps 1% Listán Blanco (Palomino). It fermented with 100% full clusters in concrete vats with indigenous yeasts and no temperature control. The wine aged in used 500-liter oak casks for 11 months. It has the textbook floral and spicy notes and mainly a volcanic character close to pumice stones. The palate is elegant and fluid, somehow ethereal and coming back with more structure than you expected. 4,000 bottles were filled in November 2016.” 94+ Points, Wine Advocate

“Lovely dusty quality, rocky, white pepper with a beautifully dry texture to the tannins. Elegant and fresh.” 17/20 Points, Jancis Robinson

More about the Wine:

For many, this will be their first exposure to the wines from the Canary Islands. Don’t worry, you’re going to see more soon. These volcanic islands off the coast of Morocco have become the new darling of the wine world, showing a massive amount of interest from hipster somms and curious retailers hungry to sell something new.

It is not new. Wine has been made on the islands for more than 500 years. Shakespeare was purportedly a fan, giving numerous shout outs in his early plays. “But, i’ faith, you have drunk too much canaries,” says Mistress Quickly in Part 1 of Henry IV, “that’s a marvellous searching wine, and it perfumes the blood…” While Shakespeare was referring to the fortified sweet wine popular in the day, his use of the word “perfume” is still apt in the context of ‘El Ciruelo’ which bursts alive with an intoxicating combination of Fleurie-like aromatics and a core of ethereal dark volcanic stone.

Valle de la Orotava is one of the oldest wine growing regions on the Canary Islands and is likely home to the vineyards that bore the fortified whites Shakespeare & Co. drunk. It also happens to be close to Suertes del Marques, one of the Canary Island’s most talked about wineries. Despite its short life (it was only established in 2006), owner/director Jonathan Garcia Lima and his team have raised the bar, attracting worldwide attention for distinctive, immersive wines. “El Ciruelo” is the crown jewel of the domain, hailing from 90 year old un-grafted vines of Listán Negro, precariously rooted on the steep slopes of Pico del Teide – the world’s third largest volcano. Like all their wines, the fruit is farmed organically, avoiding any avoid any systemic treatment and is vinified with as little intervention as possible. This means only wild yeasts are used for fermentation (in uncoated concrete tanks), rackings are avoided and very low doses of sulfites. The end result is a beautiful and exciting wine, bright in tone, and a spectacular window into one of the most exciting estates on the island today!

Posted in Reserve List By Tim Sellon