Wines of the Canary Islands by LARRY RUSSO

WINES FROM THE Spanish Canary Islands are unique in that they are grown on ungrafted vine stocks, meaning that they produce indigenous varieties grown on their own ancient root stocks. Wine from “Las Islas Canaries” has been held in high esteem for centuries, as demonstrated by being mentioned by William Shakespeare in five of his plays. This windswept volcanic archipelago, off the coast of Africa, consists of seven main islands, five of which have one appellation of wine. Tenerife, the largest island, has five more. These indigenous grapes are grown in black lava and made into wines that deliver rich minerality and a touch of salinity.

The most prominent indigenous varieties grown on the Canary Islands include two strains of “Albillo” and at least three varieties of the native “Malvasia” grape. Some other white wine grapes thrive nicely on the islands. They are unfortunately difficult to acquire in the USA; because the native names are not carried over for exported wines and often even differ among the island themselves. However, on your next trip to the Canary Islands, you can look for the following gems: “Listen Blanco” (“Palomino Fino” in Jerez), “Verdello” and “Guad” (“Verdelho”and “Boal” in Madeira). The most popular red wine grape is “Listan Negro.” This is the famed Mission grape brought to the Americas by Spanish Missionaries. When I visited the Canary Islands

(Tenerife primarily) some 30 odd years ago, the viticulture emphasis was on centuries-old sweet wine varieties. Today, however, commercial preference rules and dry wines are now in vogue. As a tourist you may have to acquire a taste for unique wines as well as windswept, pebble-strewn dark-surfaced beaches. If you are a tennis player or a golfer, playing in that almost perpetual wind is a trip…something I’ll never forget. The beaches on Tenerife are also well known for sunbathers wearing “little or none” beach wear or bathing suits. Some of the most scenic beaches can only be reached by hiking or by boat.

Wine of the Month

MY RECENT TASTE in wine has edged toward high-end (expensive) Italian wines. This month I choose a 2007 La Loggia Barolo. This particular brand of the centuries-old varietal was created a few generations ago by “Lelle” who owned the La Loggia restaurant in the historic town of Acqui Terme, situated in Italy’s Piedmont region. This Barolo is

26 • March 2017 •

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made in the classic style from Nebbiolo grapes. Initially it has an intense ruby color. With aging, that color fades to garnet infused with orange highlights. It has rich, robust, full-bodied flavors, including truffles and dark chocolate. The predominant aroma is the unique “tar and roses.” This wine pairs well with roast beef, red-sauced pasta dishes and rich cheeses. This bottle was aged for 10 years as recommended by the vintner. Available at Total Wines for about $55 and worth every penny. (Note: There are many Barolos on the market that are priced in hundreds of dollars.)•

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