Wine & Travel

Snooth User: torchtaker

What wines from the Canary Islands stand out?

Posted by torchtaker, Oct 28, 2009.

Next week I will spend a week on La Palma, one of the Spanish Canary Islands. Does anyone know of outstanding local wine varieties, vinyards or vintages that I should be careful not to miss?


Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Oct 28, 2009.

I have tried one or two but my understanding is that virtually all of the wines produced on the Canary Islands is consumed there. Sorry I can't be of any additional help.

Reply by dmcker, Oct 28, 2009.

Although I seem to remember the odd reference to 'Canary Sack' in old English literature (including Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor and Henry IV), I hadn't really seen much less tasted any until I found myself passing through Tenerife a few years back. I wasn't there all that long, but still have vivid memories of the volcanic landscape, striking folk music, great seafood, and drinking wine in the midst of all of that and even with several banana dishes (I remember a lot of bananas from there... ;-) ).

One of the big names is D.O. Lanzarote, with striking bush vineyards planted in the middle of desert-like surroundings. The white Malvasías from there has been good for a long time and was generally anglicized in the past as Malmsey. Some dry and many sweet, with even a hint of sherry-like flavor, though they are unfortified. My guess is they are likely to be part of plenty of wine tours in the islands as the Canaries have upped their tourism (esp. wine tourism) in recent years. Another good D.O. is Tacoronte-Acentejo, in the north of Tenerife, with distinctive reds made from the local Listán grape.

Canary wines are very few and far between in Tokyo where I currently live. Some wines I've had this decade when traveling elsewhere (esp. to Spain) include:
--Vinos de Terrunos German Gilabert Rosat Trepa
--Butan Crater
--Tajinaste Blanco Listan Blanco, Tajinaste Tradicional Listan Negro
--Enologia Temera Mencia VV
--Vevi Rueda
Some with vintage appellations, and other NV. There are plenty of others, I'm sure, but those are the ones I remember amidst the wines from other parts of Spain (so many wines, so little time...).

You'll commonly find both dry and sweet whites (the old Sack/Malmsey wines were likely quite strong and sweet), One bubbly dessert wine I remember is a non-vintage Cheste Agraria Muscat. Alhough muscat is generally not at the top of my list, versions from the Canaries and Greece are some of the best I've had.

And though I haven't yet tried them, and don't know their shipping restrictions, I have run across an online sales site for Canary wines:

Finally, some inspiring words from Shakespeare's Henry IV:
"But i faith, you have drunk too much canaries
and that’s a marvellous searching wine,
and it perfumes the blood ere one can say: What’s this?"

Recognize the sensation from wines even beyond the Canaries? ;-)

Reply by dmcker, Oct 28, 2009.

Here's another interesting page with some simplified tasting notes for several seco and dolce Malmseys:

Reply by torchtaker, Oct 29, 2009.

Wow, dmcker, thanks for the very informative reply and literary support!

I'll be sure to check up on the tips you gave before I fly out next week.

I will also do some good tasting, after which I will share my impressions here on Snooth, of course.

I will only visit the island of La Palma, but I'm sure they'll have wines from all over the Canary Islands. Plus, I'm confident there will be some hidden local treasures waiting to be uncovered ;-)

Reply by dmcker, Oct 29, 2009.

Look forward to hearing about the wine and 'other treasures' you encounter. ;-) Bon voyage! It's a starkly beautiful spot out in the middle of the Atlantic...

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