The wine regions of Spain, The Canary Islands, The Balearic Islands,
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Wine in Spain - Island  wine

Spain has two major island groups. One is the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa and the other, the Balearic Islands, is smack in the middle of the Mediterranean. The second archipelago is probably more famous for the individual islands themselves: Majorca, Minorca and Ibiza. Both groups have played decisive roles in Spain’s history, but nowadays they stand out more as tourist destinations than anything else. And since the average tourist likes to enjoy a good glass of wine to accompany his holidays, the locals have done their part to revive a wine sector which was, up until recently, nearly on its death bed.

 

   
THE CANARY ISLANDS
The Canary Islands actually have eleven different official wine regions. Considering many people don’t even know that wine is even made on those islands, the figure nearly belies all logic. Some, including me, have called for them to band together under one flag to avoid confusion, and this just may happen to the five D.O.’s located on the island of Tenerife, though that hasn’t been confirmed.

 

Believe it or not, Canary Island wine held a position of certain prestige centuries ago. As every book on the subject is quick to point out, Shakespeare himself alluded to the famed Canary Sack in his play the Merry Wives of Windsor and the English even opened a consulate on Tenerife at one point for the sole purpose of supervising the commercial trade of the wine.

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The vino was strong and sweet they way the English liked it and prosperity lasted until the 19th century before initiating a slow and continuous decline that has run right up to modern times.

Now a number of the regions have led a resurgence, and though we are talking about anecdotal numbers on a broader scale, I am happy to say there is some very fine wine being produced there. One of the biggest names is D.O. Lanzarote, whose unique vineyards planted in the middle of the desert-like surroundings are a tourist attraction for anyone visiting this volcanic island. Lanzarote stands out for its white Malvasías. Another serious candidate for fame is D.O. Tacoronte-Acentejo, locate on the northern side of the island of Tenerife, which makes unusual reds with a distinct aroma and flavor made from the local grape Listán. Three more regions from Tenerife are also progressing nicely. They are D.O. Valle de Güímar and its whites made from Listán Blanco, D.O. Valle de Orotava with promising samples of red, white and rosé, and finally the D.O. Ycoden-Daute-Isora, one of the oldest regions in the Canaries producing tasty white wine.

 

The remainder are not to be ignored, but they rarely find their way on to the mainland. So, you’ll most likely have to make the trip over yourself and seek them out yourself. Emphasis is given to the whites, and for the most part they are perfectly acceptable and tourist-friendly. These include: D.O. Abona (white wine), D.O. El Hierro (white wine), D.O. Gran Canaria (white/sweet wine), D.O. La Gomera (white wine), D.O. La Palma (white/red wine), D.O. Monte Lentiscal (white/red/sweet wine). Don’t fret if you’ve never heard of any of them, most Spaniards haven’t either, so you’re not alone, but give them a try if you get the chance.

BALEARIC ISLANDS
As for the Balearic Islands, well more of the same, but different. In the first sense, we are talking about a number of rather obscure regions working on a revival. But that may just be where the similarities end. First of all, their geographic location means winemaking boasts a much older tradition in those parts. Also these wines, while not gobbling up shelf space in wine warehouses around the world, are making a slow and steady push towards quality, and in some cases the final product is nothing less than outstanding. This is particularly true of D.O. Pla i Llevant which has found the right combination of using local and foreign grapes to come up with some highly original wine.

 

Recommendable are both its red and white wine. D.O. Binissalem Mallorca has been around longer but is progressing at a somewhat slower rate. Red wine is its specialty. Once again, both the offer and quantity are limited, but nonetheless worth the effort if the occasion should arise.

Feature written by Brian Murdock, author of the book "Let's Open a Bottle". You can contact Brian at murflo@eresmas.net.

 
   
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