Borja Perez “Marmajuelo”
Tenerife, Canary Islands
“Although Tenerife boasts a long wine history, it is pretty worthless because we have been making things badly for 20 years,” Borja Perez once said. For a while, indigenous varieties to the Canaries had been torn out in favor of international grapes with little chance to be that good. Thanks to winemakers like Borja, traditional varieties are back on the forefront. “Marmajuelo” is one of Borja’s richer offerings. Marmajuelo, a grape indigenous to Tenerife, is boisterous and aromatic. Thanks to Borja’s diligent use of used french oak, and a calendar year of lees-aging, this wine is round and long, but still zippy and high-toned. Salty sherry-esque goodness, dry pineapples and melons. Perfect for Thanksgiving dinner, and for the middle of the night when you’re eating the leftover mashed potatoes straight from the tupperware.
From Justerini & Brooks:
“Borja Perez is a rising star of the Canary Island wine scene. A former racing car mechanic, Borja inherited the family business in 2011 and decided to bottle his own wine rather than sell off the fruit. He set about refocusing on local varieties like Listan Blanco, Listan Negro, Marmajuelo, Vijariego Negro and Baboso Negro by restoring old ungrafted vineyards back to full health and establishing new sites – work he is still engaged in today. In that pursuit, Borja has developed a reputation as one of the best viticulturists in the Canaries. Situated in the richly biodiverse DO appellation Ycoden-Daute-Isora in Tenerife’s north west, the volcanic, maritime vineyards here range from low coastal elevations to around 800m on average, with the most extreme sites climbing as high as 1,400m. Proximity to the Atlantic and its constant cooling winds and natural humidity conspire to produce a very exciting, yet challenging, climate for wine production. In the cellar, Borja takes a minimal intervention approach with no additions at all other than a touch of sulphur at bottling. Tending to favour a little skin contact in the whites to naturally balance the wines’ intense saline acidities with a bit more texture, these are some of the most individual, characterful wines on our list, ripe for creative food pairings. In both colours, new oak is avoided in favour of concrete, 500L used French oak and 2,500L foudres. The Artifice range is produced from a combination of owned and bought-in fruit, to create an accessible, delicious entry-level range, while the Ignios Origenes wines are from fully-owned vineyards and bottled as single varietals in tiny batches to showcase the quality of these unusual varieties. For spicy, energetic wines with a deep sense of minerality and authenticity, the Borja Perez wines are just the ticket.”