Tenerife wine region
Perhaps surprisingly, wine from Tenerife and the other Canary Islands has a long and illustrious history dating back to when the Spanish first colonised the islands in the 15th century. By the 16th century Tenerife wines were being exported to the rest of Europe. They were especially popular in England: in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Sir Toby Belch calls for “a cup of canary”.
Sir Toby’s canary sack would have been a sweet wine, made from Malvasia. Such wines are still made today, but Tenerife’s recent resurgence is based on its dry reds and whites, made from local varieties grown high on the slopes of the mighty volcano Mount Teide.
These varieties came originally from Spain and Portugal, but some may be the result of natural crosses occurring on the island. In any case, many of them are now extinct or nearly so on the mainland, making the Canaries (and Madeira, which shares many of the same grapes) their main home today.
One reason for their survival on Tenerife is that the devastating aphid Phylloxera has never made it to the island. Mainland European vineyards all had to be replanted after the pest struck, and many less-productive varieties were lost in the process. The absence of phylloxera means that Tenerife’s vines are all ungrafted, grown on their own roots rather than on phylloxera-resistant American rootstocks. It also explains why they are the oldest in Europe, with many vineyards being over a century old. On the mainland, vines this old would have perished during the phylloxera epidemic.
International varieties like Chardonnay and Carbernet Sauvignon are practically unknown here. Instead the main varieties are, for reds, Listán Negro, supported by Negramoll (called Tinta Negra Mole on Madeira, where it is the main grape), Baboso Negro (Portugal’s Alfrocheiro), and Tintilla. The principal white grape is Listán Blanco, better known as the sherry grape Palomino Fino, aided by Malvasia de Tenerife (the same variety as Madeira’s) and a range of others.
Decanting Club wines from: Tenerife
Suertes del Marqués, 7 Fuentes
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