Bodegas Tamerán is the winery owned by ex-Manchester City footballer (and club legend) David Silva. It’s based in San Bartolomé de Tirajana, in Gran Canaria.
Gran Canaria hasn’t been known for high quality wines in the past, but David Silva wants to change this with Tamerán. He’s enlisted the right help, because the wines are made by Jonatan Garcia of Suertes del Marques in Orotava, Tenerife. Like Tenerife, Gran Canaria is a volcanic island, but with slightly different soils (poorer and less acidic than Orotava, with more sand and less clay).
Jonatan and David had become friends after David had tried some of Jonatan’s wine while he was in Manchester. David, who comes from Gran Canaria, bought the vineyard from another winery on the island, and the first vintage – 2020 – was made in rented space at Los Berrazales (in Agaete). The second vintage was made in the newly built Tamerán winery.
Farming is organic, with the only treatment used in the vineyard some sulfur against powdery mildew. Because this is on the south facing side of the island, the climate is quite warm, resulting in wines tending to opulence, but as with Jonatan’s own wines, there’s freshness and vitality here.
I visited in June 2022 for a party to celebrate the opening of the winery, which was first used for the 2021 vintage. David Silva was there: for someone so well known, he’s very approachable and easy going – and it’s clear that he really loves wine. I’d already tried the debut vintage, 2020, but this time we got to try the 2021s, which are soon to be bottled. ‘I’m really happy that you like the first vintage,’ says Jonatan. ‘I’m happy with the results, for a place I didn’t know – I didn’t know the grapes and the soils – and also working in another cellar, it’s not like making Suertes where I have my team, I have my equipment. So I’m happy with the result, and also David is happy with the results. The next vintage, 2021, is going to be a step ahead of 2020.’ I agree with Jonatan: the 2021s are exceptional.
How did this all begin? ‘It all started when David contacted me by Twitter because he was drinking El Ciruelo 2016, and he was impressed,’ says Jonatan. ‘He said, congratulations, it is great that the wines from the Canary Islands are so good now. So we started a friendship. Six months later we were talking about making something together, and he said, we could make something in Tenerife together. I replied that I know Tenerife, I have different projects here, so for me this doesn’t have any interest. I said why don’t we look for something in Gran Canaria? Finally, he found a vineyard that was selling, so I negotiated for him. I visited and saw that they had planted local varieties. If they had planted international grapes, I’d have told him there was no interest. But the grapes I found there were amazing.’
The vineyards here on Gran Canaria are quite different to those that Jonatan works with in Tenerfie. These vineyards are facing south, so they have higher temperatures and more sun, and the result is more aromatic wines. Jonatan blocks malolactic to preserve acidity, and also picks three weeks earlier than the previous owners, to get fresher, more expressive wines. The other big difference is soil pH. The pH in Oratava (Tenerife) is 4.5/5, which is very acid, while in Gran Canaria it is 6.5/7.
For Jonatan, working here was really instructive. He makes the wines exactly the same way but the results are very different. ‘I have learned a lot from this project,’ he says. ‘Sometimes I start to think, is my style of winemaking reductive? But then I realised it is not the style, it is about the soils. Our soils in Oratava with low pH are less balanced and sometimes they cause the wines to become reductive. Also in Oratava, the wines from Trenzado from the west where there is more black basalt are more reductive than the soils from Vidonia, from the centre and the east, with more clay. For me this was a good exercise for understanding that not all the wines from the Canary Islands have to be reductive.’
Currently there are 6.5 hectares in production, but they have planted an extra 1.5 hectares. In the last two years we have planted another 1.5 hectares. They plan to expand, because it isn’t possible to buy grapes here. ‘Gran Canaria is not like Oratava,’ says Jonatan. ‘Oratava is a small place, but it has around five times the vineyard area of Gran Canaria. The last few year years I’ve harvested 170 tonnes of grapes in Oratava, whereas the whole island of Gran Canaria this year harvested 260 tonnes. But there are more than 30 cellars here, and in Oratava there are 15 cellars. So they are very small. Gran Canaria needs to invest in planting vineyards. We have a big property, close to 100 hectares, and we are going to continue planting.’
Jonatan has enjoyed being involved here. ‘David is a fantastic person and he enjoys this a lot,’ he says. ‘He is always asking, and trying to learn every day. He is a fanatic for knowing everything. It helps that he’s a great wine enthusiast.’
2021 is the first vintage vinified in the new winery, and it was a short vintage in terms of volume.
Bodegas Tamerán Marmajuelo 2021 Gran Canaria, Spain
This was fermented in a 1500 litre foudre and the wine is still on its lees. pH 3.2 with a TA of 7 g/l. This grape needs a longer fermentation than the others. Taut and mineral with a lovely crystalline quality to the citrus fruit. Lovely aromatics with pear, spice and lime notes. Very refined and energetic with a lovely acid line. 94-96/100
Bodegas Tamerán Verdelho 2021 Gran Canaria, Spain
This is the same Verdelho as in the Açores, which came from Portugal to the Canary Islands. It has a honeyed, resiny nose that’s very distinctive with some pine and acacia. The palate is concentrated and slightly saline with notes of lavender and spice, as well as compact pear and lime fruit. Finishes saline and mineral. 93-94/100
Bodegas Tamerán Vijariego Blanco 2021 Gran Canaria, Spain
This is the longest cycle grape on the farm, and it’s legally called Vijariego Blanco but its real name is something else. Wonderful nose of marmalade, nectarine and peach with a touch of apple. The palate has lovely depth with fine spices, some minerals and a tangy finish, with some salinity. Bright and mineral with real complexity. 94-96/100
Bodegas Tamerán Malvasía Volcánica 2021 Gran Canaria, Spain
This is slightly honeyed with lime and even a touch of melon. Very fine and bright with a lovely acid line, showing perfect integration. There’s real definition here. So precise and mineral. 94-96/100
Bodegas Tamerán Baboso Blanco 2021 Gran Canaria, Spain
One barrel of 500 litres, still on its lees. No battonage. Half the plantings of this variety are on this property! Highly aromatic with a touch of honey and spice, a hint of baked apple, and some lime. The palate is energetic and mineral with compact lime and some mineral detail. Very fine and expressive with just a hint of mineral reduction. So fine. 95-97/100
2020s: the debut vintage.
Bodegas Tamerán Vijariego Blanco 2020 Gran Canaria, Spain
11.5% alcohol. Fermented in 500 litre barrel. Full yellow/gold in colour. Richly aromatic with pear, canteloup melon and mandarin notes on the nose. The palate is lively and intense with good acidity and forward pear and melon fruit, a bit of baked peach, with some taut lemony notes sitting underneath. Vivid and characterful with lovely fruit intensity, finishing with some firmness. 93/100
Bodegas Tamerán Verdelho 2020 Gran Canaria, Spain
12% alcohol. Fermented in a 1500 litre foudre. Full yellow colour. Lemony aromatics with some pear and a touch of orange peel. The palate has lovely texture with some richness to the lemon and table grape notes, with a chalky, mineral underpinning. Lively but assured with nice weight. Quite special, and a little understated. 94/100
Bodegas Tamerán Malvasía Volcánica 2020 Gran Canaria, Spain
11.5% alcohol. Fermented in a 2500 litre foudre. This is lively and aromatic and has a lovely grapey edge to the keen citrus fruit. Real power and intensity here, with a lovely acid line and distinctive minerality. Long, spice-laden, mineral finish. Such intensity and power, with real complexity. 94/100
Bodegas Tamerán Marmajuelo 2020 Gran Canaria, Spain
13% alcohol. Fermented in a 2500 litre foudre. So intriguing: powerful flavours of pear, apple, lime and grapefruit, with good acidity. Quite intense and mineral with lovely presence. Initially understated, this finishes expansively with complex fruity notes coupled with a lovely minerally acid line. 93/100
Bodegas Tamerán Baboso Blanco 2020 Gran Canaria, Spain
12% alcohol. Fermented in a 500 litre barrel. Intensely aromatic with powerful quince and peach notes, as well as some spicy notes. The palate is intense and concentrated with a great acid line and powerful pear, mandarin and grapefruit. So intense with great acidity and very ripe fruit. 95/100
A film of the visit:
UK agent: Indigo Wine
These wines are available in the Uk from The Sourcing Table (I declare an interest as contributing editor)