There is a family of awe-inspiring islands located directly off the sandy shores of Morocco that reside under Spain’s Empire. The Canary Islands are a winemaking region lined with mystical vineyards reminiscent of driving around Jurassic park in a Jeep Wrangler. These vineyards will spark a burning interest in any wine enthusiast; the coarse yet lush black sand, the history of the land, its funky grapes and wicked winds.
Most of the vineyards on these islands are absolutely berserk. These islands were formed by volcanic eruptions way back when, making the soil completely made up of volcanic ash. Due to the extreme wind, large pits are dug deep into the dusty black soils to provide a shield for the vines, allowing them to grow and thrive. The numerous rows of craters make these vineyards look as if you are stepping off of Apollo 11.
The Canary Islands are comprised of seven islands that represent 10 DO wine making regions. Not all of the vineyards here are as sci-fi-esque as others – but they all produce kick ass wine.
The wines that once were the claim to fame of the Canary Islands were sweet, viscous wines clad with a heavy mouth feel that sticks to the sides of your palate with its luxurious plus body. Produced from Malvasia aka Malmsey, these wines hit their apex back in the 1800s before sweet wines across France became noteworthy. Oh, and don’t forget the sweet wine soaked dynasty of Portugal. Although the after dinner treat wines of the Islands may have peaked in high school some are still in the market and well worth your time.
Malvasia/Malmsey also is produced into crisp and crunchy dry whites across the world, but is the most popular export for the Canary Island dry wines. Usually these wines are laced with a medium body sun dripping with Meyer lemon juice notes, crisp and crunchy chilled yellow apple skins that are encrusted in powdered quartz. When the white wines are not Malvasia they are Listan Blanco a grape supporting a round body and lively stewed tropical fruits, this grape keeps a low profile but will make an appearance now and then.
Red wines are not as prevalent here. Although Listan Negro is the popular of the unpopular, after baking in the sun most of its life is turns into a zesty, peppered bushy tailed wine, joined with tannin that clings to your tongue like one clings to their bed on Monday morning.
The Canary Islands are a wine lovers dreamland, they let us fantasize about the boundless opportunity of wine and vine. It isn’t just Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, Bordeaux and Napa. Wine is not black and white, it is a kaleidoscope of endless possibilities and these volcanic Islands are an exquisite illustration of it.