Water, the essence of life. Essential in sustaining every living thing on earth, it covers 71 per cent of the planet, makes up 70 per cent of the human body and without it you’d be dead within days.
But where does it come from?
Well, the supermarket of course. Here in Tenerife, we buy bottled water because, unlike the stuff that comes out of the tap, it’s guaranteed to be free of chlorine, clean and pure and tasting the way water should.
That’s our good fortune, because the island is blessed with more natural mineral springs per square kilometre than anywhere else on earth, one of which can be found in the town of Vilaflor, high on the slopes of Mount Teide.
In all, 500 mineral springs produce 20 different types of water, all with their own subtly different tastes and flavours.
But doesn’t the dictionary tell us that water is a clear colourless, odourless, tasteless liquid?
Not according to top chefs and experts from the gastronomic world, including Julio Cayuela Tormo, founding president of the Spanish School of Sommeliers.
“Water is surely the business of the future, rather than oil,” said an enthusiastic Julio Cayuela, who treats this natural resource with the same respect as is normally given to wine.
And, as with wines, trained palates can detect the distinctive tastes and flavours between different waters. They demonstrated their abilities at the first water tasting, Aguas de Vilaflor, held October 2007 at the Hotel Villabra, which sits majestically above the town of Vilaflor.
The tasters were rewarded with a tour of the nearby Fuente Alta plant to see how the water emerged from the spring in cave-like water galleries deep underground to be channelled to the modern processing and bottling plant.
Judging and awarding points to a substance described in the Spanish Royal Academy Dictionary, as “odourless, colourless and bland” is no easy task.
But after the initial tasting and a little coaching from the experts at Fuente Alta, chefs, sommeliers and others in the trade agreed there are different flavours to water.
According to the president of the College of Sommeliers, there are nutty flavoured waters and some with touches of limestone or clay, depending on the soil from which they were drawn.
Perhaps the best lesson learned was that this substance does have taste, and is not just a drink of water.
The Aguas de Vilaflor Company, which bottles the Fuente Alta brand, is a Canarian owned and financed company, which owns the water rights to the Fuente Alta spring.
But the natural spring water in Vilaflor has been used for centuries and may well be why the town was founded back in the 16th century.
The 19th century historian, Pascual Madoz, in his History of the Canaries described Vilaflor as: “Situated in a small wooded valley high above sea level, it enjoys a bracing if somewhat cold, at least healthy climate. The inhabitants enjoy abundant water sources.” read more about Tenerife’s highest inhabited town and it’s most famous son – Hermano Pedro