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Regions

Comprehensive description of all European growing areas, their grape varieties, traditions and legal rules with maps.

Description to Canary islands

The Canary Islands (span. Canarias), which belong to Spain, cover an area of about 7,500 km² and are located in the Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of Africa. That is 1.100 km from the mainland Spain, but the easternmost island Lanzarote is only 100 km away from Africa(Morocco). When the Romans landed on the island of Fuerteventura in ancient times, they found numerous packs of wild dogs, therefore they called the island "Insula Canaria" (Dog Island). In 1402 a Spanish ship landed on Gran Canaria and found there the original population of the Guanches, this people still lived as in the stone age. The Spaniards and Portgiese brought their native grape varieties with them until the end of this century and founded the viticulture. At that time, sweet, alcoholic wines were popular, which were made from the white varieties Moscatel and Malvasia. The wine was called "canary sack" and was exported in large quantities to England and Northern Europe. At the time of William Shakespeare (1564-1616) the island wine was already famous. In "What You Will" Sir Toby Belch asks for "a cup of canary".

The seven main islands are Fuerteventura, La Gomera, Gran Canaria, El Hierro, Lanzarote, La Palma and Tenerife, all of which have vineyards. They are volcanic islands, the last eruption took place on La Palma in 1971. For this reason, the soil is volcanic and is very suitable for vine growing. The subtropical and pleasant climate, which is uniform and pleasant throughout the year, has earned the archipelago the nickname "Islands of Eternal Spring". The flora is characterized by a high biodiversity and a high percentage of autochthonous plant species. The vineyards cover about 9,000 hectares of vines. A special feature are the exclusively rootless vines, as the archipelago has been largely spared from phylloxera.

The most important red wine variety is Almuñeco(Listán Negro) with over 4,500 hectares. Others are Baboso Negro (Alfrocheiro), Cabernet Sauvignon, Castellana Negra(Rufete), Moscatel Negro(Listán Prieto), Negramoll, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Tempranillo, Tintilla(Trousseau Noir) and Vijariego Negro(Sumoll). The main white wine variety is Listán Blanco(Palomino), others are Albillo Criollo, Baboso Blanco(Cayetana Blanca), Burra Blanca(Airén), Forastera Blanca(Chelva), Gual(Malvasia Fina), Malvasía de la Palma(Malvasia di Lipari), Malvasía de Lanzarote, Marmajuelo, Moscatel(Muscat Blanc), Pedro Ximénez, Verdello and Vijariego. Both the red and white wines are characterised by a light, but clearly palatable mineral note.

Kanarische Inseln - Karte

El Hierro

Here the Englishman John Hill planted vines for the first time in 1626. The terraced vineyards of the DO area of the same name with almost 300 hectares of vines reach up to 700 metres above sea level. It is known above all for white wines from the Vijariego Blanco variety. These make up around 70% of the production and are also produced from the other Canary Islands varieties. The red wines are mainly pressed from Listán Negro and Negramoll. The best sweet wines are made from noble rotten grapes.

Gran Canaria

The DO area of the same name comprises around 450 hectares of vineyards at an altitude of up to 850 metres above sea level (the former second DO area Monte Lentiscal was abandoned or integrated). The vineyards are located around the capital Las Palmas and in the northeast of the island. The most famous wine, which also established the DO status, is "Tinto del Monte" (mountain wine) from the Listán Negro variety.

La Gomera

With 370 km² the second smallest island. The DO area of the same name comprises around 100 hectares of vineyards on steep terraced slopes, which are fortified with stone walls.

Lanzarote

In the year 1730, there was a volcanic eruption that lasted six years and covered the whole island with a layer of lapilli (pebbles) and black ash. The DO area, which covers the entire island, includes some 2,300 hectares of vineyards in the five municipalities of Haría, San Bartolomé, Teguise, Tinajo and Yaiza. It is divided into four subzones: La Geria in the south, San Bartolomé - Tías in the centre, Tinajo in the west and Haría - Ye in the north. The climate is extremely dry. The vines are planted in artificially created hollows (hoyos) up to three metres deep and surrounded by semi-circular stone walls made of basaltic lava rocks to protect them from the north-east trade winds and the drying up. A speciality are fortified sweet wines with a high alcohol content. The best wines are made from vines that are up to one hundred years old. The Bodega "El Grifo", founded in 1775, runs a wine museum worth seeing and is famous for its Malvasia wines.

Kanarische Inseln - Lanzarote - Reben in Mulden (Hoyos)

La Palma

This is also called "La Isla Bonita" (the beautiful island). The DO area of the same name with over 1,000 hectares of vineyards consists of three subzones: Fuencaliente-Las Manchas, Hoyo de Mazo and Norte del Palma. 80% of the white wines are made from the classic varieties. The sweet wines produced from berries are partly sprinkled. A speciality is the white wine "Vino de Tea" from Albillo. It is named after a native pine species, from which the 500-litre barrels for ageing are made.

Tenerife

With nearly 2.000 km² the biggest of the Canarian Islands. There are five DO areas here. The southern DO area Abona covers 2,200 hectares at up to 1,800 meters above sea level. The DO area Tacoronte-Acentejo on the west coast covers 1,800 hectares and is named after the towns Tacoronte and La Victoria de Acentejo. The climatically hottest DO area Ycoden-Daute-Isora covers the entire green northwest of the island. It is named after the ancient Guanche kingdoms Ycode and Daute, as well as the kingdom of Princess Isora. The steep vineyards at an altitude of up to 1,400 metres above sea level cover 1,600 hectares. Garachico developed into the main export port of the famous "Canary Sack". The DO area Valle de Güímar covers 750 hectares and is named after the valley of the same name. The vineyards here are situated at an altitude of up to 1,400 metres above sea level. The DO area Valle de la Orotava covers 700 hectares and is named after the town of Orotava on the northwest coast.

Producers

Well-known producers in the Canary Islands include Bodega Comarcal Valle de Güimar, Bodegas El Grifo, Bodega El Lomo, Bodega El Níspero and Bodegas Flores, Bodegas Insulares Tenerife, Bodega Llanovid, Bodegas Monje, Bodegas Mozaga, Bodegas Reverón, Bodega Tajinaste, Bodega Tomás Guzmán Mesa Rodríguez, Bodega Viña Chagua, Bodegas Viñátigo, Coop. Cumbres de Abona and Juan Jesús Méndez Siverio.

Map: Bernd Ramm Goruma
Lanzarote vineyards: © Dr. Peter Bezold

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