Bodegas Los Bermejos – Innovation and Tradition
Los Bermejos is one of the largest wineries in both Lanzarote and in the Canary Islands, but it has not always been that way. Let me tell you their story:
A Bit of History
The estate where Bermejo is based, is what remains of a huge property belonging to the Bello family, one of the wealthiest families in the Island 100 years ago. The Bellos owned a large farm and lived in the house adjacent. The current bodega and offices is where the previous winery once was, but it is also where the farm workers and animals once to lived. The old lagar is not in use anymore, but it has been very well preserved; even a quick visit will give you an idea of how the wine was made during the last century.
The last refurbishment by the Bellos was made in 1920 and they went on to produce small quantities of wine until 2001, when the winery was bought by the current owners, winemaker Ignacio Valdera and entrepreneur Carmelo Gonzalez.
Both Carmelo and Ignacio started a project to revolutionise the wines from Lanzarote, which was to make single variety wines with the Island´s main grape varieties: Malvasia Volcanica, Moscatel, Diego and the red varietal Listan Negro.
When they first started, they had to compete with the many wines on the market. They differentiated with a special bottle design, that they originally imported from Italy. The bottle is now produced in Gran Canaria. Other vineyards in Lanzarote have since followed suit as a way to stand out. We love this idea!
Los Bermejos Today
Twenty years have gone by since Carmelo and Ignacio started their project, and the Bermejo wines are still at the forefront of the Island's wine lists. Nowadays, they are producing 14 different wines, all native and unblended with the same ethos, keeping the ingredient pure and fully respecting it through the entire wine making process. One of the most recent and important changes in recent years is the promotion of Daniel Martin to head winemaker. Dani is just 26, is from Lanzarote and has viticulture in his blood. His family have made wine forever and he has studied on the Peninsula and gained invaluable experience at the world famous Vega Sicilia Bodega in Ribera del Duero.
The Los Bermejos vineyard measures 20 hectares and a team of 12 people work everyday to keep everything in order, 4 of these in the vineyard. Their land does not produce enough for all their wine production so at harvest time they buy in grapes from around 300 small farmers from across the Island, many of these from the low areas in Tinajo, where the poor soil and Atlantic winds produce an excellent quality grape, especially that of Malvasia.
In order to keep the quality exceptional, they track the crop from the beginning of the cycle. Contact with the farmers is again made at the beginning of July; then they begin to test the grapes. Depending on the style of wine they want to make, the grape needs to be collected at a certain time when the acidity and sugar levels in particular are optimal.
As you can see, many things have been improved at Bermejo in the last 20 years. Their first year of production resulted in just 63,000 Kg and nowadays they have capacity for 800,000 Kg of grapes in a high yielding year! What hasn’t changed though is their philosophy, where the natural quality of the grape is the priority.
Technology at the Service of Tradition
Around 600 analytical tests of grapes and vineyards are carried out before and during the manual harvest. The high technology machine they use can analyse and report on everything. The aim of using technology is to check and preserve the special characteristics of each variety.
All equipment and processes used has a minor impact on the grape. For example, they apply a soft pressing of whole grapes to obtain a premium juice or "must" and use gravity instead of pumps for wine transfers. By using these techniques, they maintain the natural characteristic of the grape. The result is an excellent wine, where quality is recognised worldwide. In fact, their sparkling rose is served in one of the top restaurants in US, Next in Chicago!
What Makes a Difference
There are plenty of reasons which make Los Bermejos different from the rest. We have highlighted a few for you:
- Their elegant and unique bottles is the first thing that strikes you!
- All grapes are kept refrigerated for 24 hours before pressing (apart from those carbonic macerated).
- All their wines are unblended. They only use one variety per wine, in order to maintain the essence of the terroir.
- The selected varieties are native to Lanzarote: Malvasía, Moscatel, Diego and Listán Negro
- Sparkling wines are made using the traditional (champenoise) method. The bottles are kept on their side for 24 months and then the lees taken out prior to corking.
- The amount of sulphites is very low, around 60ppm which is less even than the maximum permitted in organic wines.
Bermejo in Numbers:
Average crop: Harvest 500,000 - 600,000KG per year (though significantly lower the past two years due to a very low Island yield)
This year: We expect a slightly higher yield than 2020, but harvest is still in progress.
Vineyard Size: Apart from their 20 hectares, they buy from 300 local farmers.
Staff: 12 all year round. 4 in the office, 4 in the winery and 4 in the vineyard.
Export: Around 30% of their wine is exported which is a much higher percentage than the other wineries on the Island. Their main export market is the US, where the Rose is particularly popular. Asia and most recently Japan receive a small quantity of wine too. Closer to home we are happy to be bringing the wines to the UK & Ireland and across Europe through the Wine Shop.
You can take a look at our selection of Bermejo in the UK based online Shop and read more about each style including the tasting notes. Delivery is free on 12 bottles to the UK & Ireland and we fully recommend signing up to our website!
We hope you enjoyed the read!