O'Daly, La Palma Tinto 2019
Tintilla and Castellana Negra
From the importer-
La Palma native Nancy Castro Rodríguez and her husband Constancio Ballesteros Magán met in 1990 at enology school in La Mancha, central Spain’s industrial wine workhorse, and went on to work together in a local cooperative winery. From the massive vineyard area and high yields of La Mancha, it is impossible to imagine a more opposite winegrowing region than where they find themselves today: the mountains of La Palma in the western Canary Islands, home to some of the highest vineyards in Europe with old, mixed plantings that are unique in the world. On vacation in La Palma in 1997, it dawned on the couple that they could continue their winemaking careers, help to preserve Nancy’s spectacular family vineyards, and raise a family in an island paradise.
Vinos Tendal was born! Starting a winery in the region was a bold move in the 1990s. The DO La Palma was brand new, and there was no commercial winemaking to speak of in the remote north of the island, where the terrain is incredibly treacherous and expensive to cultivate. The topography of La Palma is defined by hair-raisingly steep peaks and massive gorges, which plunge from the island’s sharp central ridge straight down to the Atlantic Ocean. The vineyards in the north are volcanic in origin but not located on active volcanoes; the soils are older, more decomposed, and with more moisture than the famous lava fields in the south. Nancy and Constancio make Malvasía wines from vineyards in the south, but the majority of their wines come from mixed mountain plantings in the northwest, specifically the zones of Tijarafe, Puntagorda, and Garafia. Up north, distinctive local varieties Listán Blanco, Albillo Criollo, Negramoll, Listán Prieto, Castellana, Tintilla, Listán Negro, and more grow in traditional, narrow, rocky terraces on very steep slopes surrounded by pine forests at 1000-1600m elevation. Farming on La Palma is backbreaking, and maintaining stone terraces on the near-vertical drops is a constant pursuit. The grapes from the northern zones have distinctive, taut and acidic, altitude-driven personalities that reflect the mix of Atlantic and Continental conditions. The elements of this unique landscape are translated very precisely by Nancy and Constancio’s transparent style of winemaking and careful organic farming.
Currently, they make wine from 80 vineyards covering 20ha (between their own and grower partners’ land), all farmed organically. The Castro y Magán lineup is broad and radical. The majority of their annual production falls under the Tendal label, their entry-level range of fresh young wines that sell out immediately to thirsty tourists in the local market, as well as certified organic wines (the first on La Palma), and scintillating Champagne-method sparklers (also the first on La Palma). O’Daly is the label used for their unique, limited-production bottlings: site-specific red blends, savory single-vineyard Albillo Criollo with lees aging, sapid, salty rancios pulled from hidden casks, sweet Malvasía that is equal parts decadent and weightless, and their new cider project (also the first on La Palma!) made from local apple varieties grown in humid parts of northern La Palma where grapes are not typically grown. The Castro y Magán cellar is an old cave carved into the side of the Bellido mountains in Tijarafe, historically used by Nancy’s family to make wine for their own consumption. Its contents express an intense curiosity for La Palma’s natural bounty and a continuing commitment to honing their craft and experimenting with new wines and styles.