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A drink with… Jonatan García

Jonatan García is the winemaker at Suertes del Marqués, the Tenerife winery that helped put the Canary Islands on the world wine map. He talks to Natalie Earl about making wine at Bodegas Tamerán, footballer David Silva's new project in Gran Canaria.

Canary Island native and famous footballer, David Silva, has enlisted the pioneering Jonatan García as his winemaker at the pair’s new winery project, Bodegas Tamerán, on Silva’s home island of Gran Canaria. García also has a winery in Tenerife, Suertes del Marqués, and his mineral, authentic wines have helped put the Canary Islands on the world wine map.

‘While David Silva was playing for Manchester City, he got in touch with me through social media to say congrats about one of my wines from Suertes del Marqués that he was drinking. We started a friendship and he suggested that we start a project together in Tenerife. But as Gran Canaria is his island, it seemed more interesting to start a project there. He found a property with vineyards, which I visited for him, and we started making wine there in 2020. I saw that the grapes planted were indigenous grapes from the island, so I was very interested. I’ve been a football fan all my life, and now I support his team! I started as a Manchester City fan, and now I’m a Real Sociedad fan. Tamerán is the original name for the island of Gran Canaria, something that we recovered from books.

Jonatan Garcia

Bodegas Tamerán winery surrounded by its vineyards

‘David didn’t know much about wine years ago, but he started to try, buy and read about wine, and now he’s a wine freak. He’s very involved in the wines and in the project. We talk everyday, and he knows what’s going on in the cellar. He chose to work with me because he likes my style of wine. We have the same concept of the wines that we like to drink: clean white wines, very precise with acidity.

‘Gran Canaria as a winemaking area is not that big, if you compare it to Tenerife where I make my own wines. The area under vine is half that of Valle de Orotava in Tenerife. It’s not been that popular for making wine in the last century, even though the very first vines planted in the Canary Islands were in Gran Canaria! But more people are starting to invest in planting new vineyards, so I think the island is going to have big development in the next few years.

‘At Bodegas Tamerán we are making wines from single grape varieties that are very unique. I’m not making single-vineyard wines, because the orientation and the altitude and the type of soils are not changing, so it makes no sense to make single vineyard wines, just single grapes. More a concept of the new world. Not like at Suertes del Marqués, where you have a big contrast between the orientations and the elevations.

‘We make five whites and one clarete. The whites are made from Vijariego Blanco, Baboso Blanco, Verdello, Malvasia Volcanica and Marmajuelo. The vines are ungrafted in the Canary Islands, which is mainly a consequence of the isolation of the island during the development of phylloxera. Another result is that the island has maintained vine training systems and grape varieties that were once at risk of disappearing through the growth of negociants.

‘The grapes that I think have parameters analytically that are very interesting are Baboso Blanco and Vijariego Blanco. But then I have been surprised by the quality of the Malvasia Volcanica too. Each vintage I’m seeing that it’s good. But if I had to choose, Baboso Blanco and Vijariego Blanco are the ones that have more potential; let’s see in the next few years.

‘We work organically in the vineyards, and it’s a bit easier than it is in Tenerife as we’re in the south of Gran Canaria and the climate is drier. Another result of these warm south-facing vineyards is that Tamerán wines are much more aromatic. But they are also fresh. Sometimes they remind me of Ribeiro from Galicia. I harvest early, because for me and David, one of the most important things in white wine is the acidity, the sensation of freshness. The wines have a bit more volume, so that’s why I try to avoid malolactic fermentation, because if not they’ll be too fat.

‘As for the future, we have a sweet fortified wine on the cards made from Malvasia, and there’s also the potential to make a red, but let’s see what will happen. The idea is for us to get growers on the island included in our project, like at Suertes. And if you want old vines, you have old vines. There is great potential still to develop in the islands.’

Jonatan García

Jonatan García and David Silva in the cellar


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