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Wild, volcanic, delicious.

The word 'Benje' comes from the language of the indigenous inhabitants of Tenerife who lived on the island prior to it's colonization by the Spanish over four hundred years ago. Benje was their name for the tallest peak on Tenerife, the 3000 plus meter high volcano now known as 'Pico Viejo' (Old Mountain), an eruption a little over a year ago blew the top off Benje, reducing it from the tallest, to the second tallest peak on Tenerife behind the 3700m Pico Teide.  

The vineyards that provide fruit for Benje Blanco are in the shadow of the volcano, planted directly into the rubble and scree that remains after an eruption in 1908. The vineyards are well over 1000m above sea level, above the town of Santiago de Teide on the north western side of the island. Unlike the lower zones of Valle de la Orotava or Taganana further to the east, the Benje sites are less subject to the cooling Aliosos trade winds, but the added altitude brings it's own sense of freshness to the wines of this zone. The altitude also means Benje's vines are normally above the cloud cover resulting in much, much drier conditions.

Viticulture in this area was introduced by the Spanish, not the Portuguese as it was in Taganana, meaning there's not the confusing array of varietals but simply, very old head pruned Listan Prieto vines. Originally from continental Spain, Listan Prieto was brought to the Canaries during the Spanish colonization of South America, where the grape went onto become a mainstay of South American wine industry under the name Pais, before being brought north again, to California where it survives under the alias Mission. Of late this well travelled cultivar has fallen out of favour, in the era (or error?) Parker-led tastes and modern winemaking due to it's relatively light colour, low tannin, lower levels of alcohol and a penchant for growing grapes with high natural acidity. All things that make it immediately appealing to the Envinate team... 

 

 

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