Vidonia is the reinvention of a historic wine from Tenerife. Originally, it was a fortified wine from Tenerife made in the 17th and 18th centuries. Most of the fortified wines from the Canaries were made from Malvasia, but Vidonia was the name for fortified wines that didn’t have Malvasia in them, and they always came from the centre and east of the valley, where the soils were richer.
This was a rare opportunity to a complete vertical of this wine, with Jonatan Garcia in town at Noble Rot, which is the base for importers Keeling Andrew, who are now bringing these wines into the UK. It’s 100% Listán Blanco (Palomino), and some of the vintages had a tiny bit of Terrantez Volcanico, but a tiny amount. Listán Blanco is the same as Palomino Fino of Jerez but the two have been separated for four centuries and the Canary version has undergone some mutations in this time. In the Orotava Valley alone there could be perhaps 10 different clones, says Jonatan, and they are all on their own roots.
Trenzado is the west part of the Orotava valley, with poor rocky basaltic soils. Vidonia comes from the centre and east of the valley where the soils are richer, with more clay. The trellising here is quite unique: the cordon Trenzado, with canes braided in with each other, and each vine attaining quite a length over time.
There are two stages in the cellar: 2011-2015, and 2016 onwards (which is when Jonatan started making the wines, heralding a change in style). 2011-2015 the wines were riper, harvested later. After 2016 they were harvested earlier: they are for longer ageing, and they are also the wines Jonatan likes to drink. Luis Seabra and Dirk Niepoort encouraged Jonatan in his quest to pick earlier. There are two ways of having acidity in the wine, says Jonatan: harvesting earlier or adding acidity. The former makes wines that age much better.
From 2011-2018 the vintage conditions were more stable and predictable. Since then the harvests have been sooner, and the weather less predictable.
Elevage is in old barrels of 500 litres (but in 2019 a foudre was introduced, and in 2022 another). Jonatan’s regime is that the grapes are pressed, settled for two days, and fermentation starts in barrels. Fermentation is exclusively with wild yeasts, and there is no racking. There is a lack of nutrient in the volcanic soils so sometimes the yeasts struggle in winter, then finish when it warms again in the summer. The reductive notes that have been characteristic of some of the Suertes del Marqués wines come from nutrient defincies in the acid soils, but also with more dirty ferments, settling the juice less.
They have been adding lime to some of their soils to make them more balanced. The acid soils was making some nutrients unavailable, and many of the reds were extremely reductive in the past.
Orotava has a warm winter and a mild summer, so the vines wake up early, it gets up to 25 C and rarely to 35 in the summer, and so there’s a long cycle, even though harvests are quite early. They can end up with ripe grapes and 12 degrees of alcohol.
The lack of phylloxera isn’t due to the volcanic soils, but because of the isolation of the wine culture here since the 19th century. It just never spread. Many of the wines were drunk on the ships that stopped here to restock, or locally. Because of this there was no pressure on the winegrowers in the islands to plant other more famous varieties, so these new varieties didn’t come in and bring phylloxera with them. The isolation continues with quarantine controls in customs.
Suertes del Marqués Vidonia 2011 Tenerife, Spain
A fresher year. Just two barrels this year. Toasty and rich but still fresh with pear, apricot, lemon and peach as well as a subtle hint of mushroom. Fine, complex and taut with very rich fruit with nuts and spice, and then a lovely spicy acid line. 94/100
Suertes del Marqués Vidonia 2012 Tenerife, Spain
Golden colour. Mineral and matchstick on the nose with powerful citrus, pear and peach fruit. In the mouth this is complex and explosive with real intensity showing a strong mineral character as well as rich bold fruit. So fine and expressive with a tapering fine limey acid finish. This is an explosive wine. 97/100
Suertes del Marqués Vidonia 2013 Tenerife, Spain
Higher yields this year. Powerful, mineral and textural with a hint of mint and lovely pear, peach and spice notes. Lovely intensity here with some spice and minerals under the bold fruit. 94/100
Suertes del Marqués Vidonia 2014 Tenerife, Spain
Warm vintage. Golden colour. Powerful and expressive with a lovely core of citrus and pear fruit with some apple notes. Quite structured and angular with a linear feel to the fruit. Bright and lemony with a pithy edge. Focused. 93/100
Suertes del Marqués Vidonia 2015 Tenerife, Spain
Concentrated and focused with taut citrus and pear fruit with a nice stony mineral twist. Has some angular quality with good acidity and some citrus pith character on the finish. Quite compressed. Lovely balance. 93/100
Suertes del Marqués Vidonia 2016 Tenerife, Spain
The change: harvested earlier, two weeks earlier than normal. Bright, taut and linear with good acidity. Notes of spice and minerals with nice precision. There’s a lovely freshness and purity to this wine which has subtle mineral notes in the background. Lovely acid line here: it keeps the wine fresh, but integrates beautifully. 95/100
Suertes del Marqués Vidonia 2017 Tenerife, Spain
Tight and mineral with a lovely spicy overlay to the citrus and pear fruit. There’s some white peach richness, but also some very fine mineral, toasty notes adding an extra dimension. Real finesse here with a lovely brightness on the finish. 95/100
Suertes del Marqués Vidonia 2018 Tenerife, Spain
This is really intense and mineral on the nose with some fine spices and also a hint of cabbage alongside the ripe pear fruit. The palate is vital and complex with good acidity and notes of spice, minerals, dried herbs and pear and citrus fruit. Give this quite a bit more time. 95/100
Suertes del Marqués Vidonia 2019 Tenerife, Spain (magnum)
This year started fermentation in barrels of 500 litres, but then racked it to a 2500 litre foudre, and then a barrel of 500 litres because of the small harvest. A very low production year, and this was the last bottle, a magnum. It’s taut, complex and linear with precise lemon and lime fruit with some spicy mineral character. Taut and focused with a tapering finish. So tight and complex, this has a long future ahead of it. 96/100
Suertes del Marqués Vidonia 2020 Tenerife, Spain
This is bright, taut, spicy and mineral with keen acidity as well as lemon and pear fruit. There’s a wonderful spicy minerality with explosive acidity. So focused and bright with lovely acidity keeping everything in check. There’s a great combination of linearity and some richness to the fruit. Beautiful stuff. 96/100
Suertes del Marqués Vidonia 2021 Tenerife, Spain
Has foudre and barrel. Pure, focused, linear and finely spiced, with lemon and pear fruit. Harmonious with a touch of nutty richness as well as bright citrus notes. Very fine and linear with great intensity but also a sense of harmony. Lovely potential for development. 95/100
Suertes del Marqués Vidonia 2022 Tenerife, Spain
Has foudre and barrel. Taut, bright and focused with lovely precision to the fruit. Focused and intense with lovely citrus core, and just a hint of mineral reduction. So precise and focused with good intensity and a long future ahead of it. 96/100
We also tasted three new special cuvées:
Suertes del Marqués Vidonia VP Listán Branco 2022 Tenerife, Spain
The first vintage of VP was 2020, and the inspiration was the barrel-fermented whites from Burgundy, which Jonatan likes very much. It’s a four barrel blend of Vidonia, from the centre of the valley, matured in new oak. Only their own vines. Complex, linear, spicy and intense with well integrated nutty, spicy oak. Has great acidity and a sense of precision, with good complexity. Lots of potential here. 96/100
Suertes del Marqués Edición 1 Listán Blanco 2022 Tenerife, Spain
A wine made specially for Keeling Andrew, and the debut vintage. The top barrel of white this vintage, in new oak. Such precision and focus here with astonishing focus. Shows lime and spice, with well integrated oak. Very fine and still so compressed, with massive potential. Such focus and precision, and massive potential for development over many years. 96/100
Suertes del Marqués Edición 1 Listán Negro 2022 Tenerife, Spain
The red version of Edicion 1 is a Listan Negro from El Ciruelo, with 50% whole bunch. Soils are loamy clay with quite a bit of sand, facing north. Fermented in plastic vat, then aged in a used barrel of 500 litres. Pure, fine, structured and elegant. On one hand it’s light and ethereal with lovely purity to the cherry fruit. But on the other, this has structure and some smiky, spicy, mineral complexity. Such purity and finesse, and massive drinkability. Lovely stuff. 97/100
An older (2019) report on Jonatan’s wines, from a visit: https://www.wineanorak.com/wineblog/spain/suertes-del-marques-an-amazing-winegrower-in-tenerife-spain