Regions / Spain / Canary Islands
Canary Islands Wine Regions, its Climate, and Popular Grape Varietals
The Canary Islands (“Islas Canarias”) comprise a volcanic archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean, about 100 kilometers west of Morocco. This winemaking region comprises six different islands, with the most prominent of them being Tenerife.
Given the location of the Canary Islands, it is easily one of the most extreme winemaking regions in all of Spain. Based on its geographic location at 28 degrees latitude, it has a hot and humid climate. Moreover, it has a rugged terrain, the potential for volcanic activity, and extreme winds. As a result, extreme care has to be taken in protecting vines during the growing season.
There are certain advantages for Canarian winemakers, though, and these include the rich, volcanic soil and the extremely old vines. Thanks to the relative isolation of the islands throughout history, they have been isolated from phylloxera, and that has enabled some vines to exist for long periods of time. Moreover, the high mountain elevations can provide a more favorable, cooler growing climate.
Most of the grapes grown in the Canary Islands are indigenous to the region. The most popular white grape varietals include Malvasia, Listan Blanco and Marmajuelo. The most popular red grape varietals include Listan Negro and Tinta Negra. Listan Negro grapes are able to produce light, fruity wines, similar to a young Beaujolais. In recent years, a Listan Negro from Tenerife has been named one of the best island wines in the world.
Winemaking in the Canary Islands has existed since at least the 1400s, when islanders made sweet, dessert-style wines for foreign explorers. Since then, however, the focus has shifted to creating dry, acidic white wines and fruity reds for island tourists.
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