VineRoutes on Threads
Canary Islands
Learn Places Sponsored Content

Bodegas Viñátigo: The crown jewel of the Canary Islands

May 16, 2023

The Canary Islands are a unique corner of the wine world. An Atlantic territory of Spain that’s geographically located just off the coast of Morocco, a small group of islands, referred to as the archipelago, have been known to produce some of the best biodynamic, organic and natural wines in the world.

This is a place largely attributed to the incredible natural features of the islands – formed over the last 11 million years by countless volcanic eruptions and seismic activity, thrusting rock out of the sea to incredible heights. However, it is also shaped by chance – of being in exactly the right place during a defining chapter in European history.

As a staging point for expeditions to the New World, the Canary Islands became a hub for traders, merchants and conquerors alike. Vines passed through from all over Europe, with many of them planted on the islands experimentally.

Protected from the ravages of phylloxera by their volcanic soils and isolated geography, the Canary Islands became an oasis for old vines as the vineyards of Europe fell; a carefully preserved window into a time long passed, waiting to be re-discovered.

Bodegas Viñátigo

The largest region for wine production is Tenerife, which has been making wine since the 15th century when the island was colonized by the Crown of Castile. Listan Blanco and Listan Negro are the two most important and widely planted grape varieties in the Canaries, and as a result, white wines tend to be light, high in acidity and crisp, while reds are generally light, fruity and fresh, with a strong mineral character coming from the volcanic soils.

Bodegas Viñátigo is a family-run winery located in the village of La Guancha, on the island of Tenerife. Juan Jesús Méndez has been a pioneer, planting varieties that he and his team recuperated from near extinction. He’s considerably increased Viñátigo’s holdings, making it a reference point for many to learn from during the 30 years that he’s overseen it.

Driven by passion and love for his homeland, Juan decided to revive and work to save the grape varieties that were brought to the Canary Islands by the conquerors between the 15th to 18th centuries and that had survived on the islands for centuries more. He is a hero of contemporary Canarian viticulture. The wealth of knowledge that his work has created has helped underpin the significant expansion of wine styles that are now available throughout the archipelago, and his wines have achieved a calibre of class that many doubted the Canaries would ever produce again.

During the last two decades, the winery has been planting grape varieties in specific vineyards, finding the perfect microclimate and soil for each one. The combination of these individual microclimates, the old vines embedded in their soils, and the decades of shared experience in their care, is the model of their distinct terroir. Bodegas Viñátigo produces 20 different wines in small batches and with very different characteristics.

With a commitment to showcasing the true essence of the Canary Islands – from recovering grapes on the verge of extinction and carefully mapping out soil types, to ensuring integrity in the winemaking process – the aim is the same: to make some of the world’s most interesting wines.

Bodegas Vinatigo

Juan Jesús Méndez has been a pioneer for the Canary Islands wine scene.

Listán Negro

Red wines of Listán Negro provide a greater sensation of terroir and are more like the traditional tintos produced in this region during most of the 20th century. Characterized by a vivid cherry-red colour and clean and bright nuances reminiscent of tart red fruits and berries (ie: sour cherries, redcurrants and raspberries) grown on volcanic soils, on the palate the best have good structure and balance, and a pleasantly persistent, slightly tannic finish.

Available through Nicholas Pearce Wines, Listán Negro is a grape that Viñátigo cultivates in the mid-lands, in the north-west of Tenerife. This grape is a native grape variety of the Canary Islands, as it originated from a natural crossing between the grapes Listán Blanco and Negramoll, both brought by Portuguese and Andalusian settlers between the 15th and 18th centuries.

The grapes are hand-harvested, usually by mid-September, and the wine ages in old barrels for three months. It’s a delightful and juicy red, with aromas of black pepper, dark fruits, and a strong mineral, volcanic character.

Order the wine from Nicholas Pearce Wines via their website at npwines.com

Loading

Exclusive content via Email

You have Successfully Subscribed!