VOLCANIC LANDSCAPES AND WINE OH MY!
The pristine image of the Canary Islands off the coast of the Iberian peninsula is most noted for its ominous volcanoes, undulating scenery, and infinite beaches. The likeliness of coming across a bottle of wine from these islands would never occur to me. I encountered this gem looking for a white wine from southern Spain and was instantly inspired to review it.
Don’t think Tweedy Bird of the Looney Toons cartoon, the Canary Islands were named and planted to vine by the Romans, who saw a serious potential to quench their thirst for wine. It’s the Latin term for Canaria, and is less romantically translated to “Island of The Dogs”. I would have given them a more fitting name “Islands of “Dive Vine”, though I wouldn’t want to piss them off. However, you might as well associate Canary Island Wines most with the celebrated Ignacio Valdera Bermejos, owner and winemaker of Bodegas Los Bermejos.
The Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago of seven rugged volcanic islands off the coast of northwestern Africa, was administered by Spain in 1821. In 1730, a series of volcanic eruptions were responsible for the creation of this chain. The winery Los Bermejos is specifically situated on the island Lanzarote.
Photographer Zanotti Ivan Flickr
To understand their basis for wine production, it’s important to know the grape and their unique approach to grow it. The island of Lanzarote is heavily influenced by a fierce wind coming 77 miles from the Sahara Desert off the African Coast. Because of this, vines are planted in holes surrounded by rocks to protect from the dust that spills into the Atlantic. It can easily destroy an entire vintage.
It’s impossible to develop a viable wine industry when there is a shortage of grapes and yields are very low because of the extreme infertile soils. In fact, with the climatic, geologic, and topographic conditions, there essentially isn’t any agriculture to support farmers.
MALVASIA: this grape is of ancient origins and is highly prone to mutation. Malvasia is a family of wine grape varieties grown historically in the Mediterranean region, including the Balearic Islands, Canary Islands and the island of Madeira, though now grown in many of the winemaking regions of the world.
This wine is made from the clonal variation explicitly called Malvasia Volcanica after the black volcanic crusted soils the vine thrives in. The series of Volcanic eruptions that It is the main grape of Lanzarote, treasured for its ability to creep its roots into the infertile lava soils.
It’s a spontaneous cross between Malvasía Aromática and Bermejuela. According to Ignacio Valdera, partner and winemaker at Los Bermejos, Malvasía Volcánica has less aromas but it is richer than the Aromática on the palate.
On the positive side, the consumer is bound to get something special from a bottle here. Struggling vines metamorphic rock, low yields, hand-harvesting, It’s a formula that sums up solidly composed wines.
ABOUT LOS BERMEJOS WINERY
Founded in 2001, by icon owner and winemaker Ignacio Valdera. There’s a Yin and Yang vibe about it when you visit since the winery looks like Sci-Fi built next to an 18th-century mansion. The name of Los Bermejos comes from the property in Juan Bello in the municipality of San Bartolome. It is one, if not the main area where grapes are grown on the easternmost part of Lanzarote.
Ignacio owns his own vineyards, but for reasons already discussed, he has to source grapes too to ensure enough wines are produced for bottling, especially for the export market. What is comforting for the consumer is that The Canary Islands along with the Catalunya in northern Spain must, by law, produce all wines on the quality level classification scheme. This means every bottle of wine produced has to abide by strict production regulations.
All grapes are hand-harvested, organically. The whole bunches of grapes are then gently pressed to extract the juiced, and cooled to retain fresh aromatics. Native yeast is used for fermentation, allowing the wine to take its course naturally. It’s aged in stainless steel tanks for 3 months. No fining or clarification is practiced, resulting in crisp clean succulent wines.
Medium-straw lemon, with green reflections at the rim.
Intense tropical fruit of banana mango, passion fruit, and guava, lemon zest, accented with Medjool dates perfumed with exotic flowers, lifted with deep salted mineral rock with a hint of smoke.
Dry, medium spritzy acid, medium alcohol delicate body, luscious texture, medium + intensity, with flavors of tropical fruits, compliments with citrus, ripe apricot, and fresh fig, honeydew melon and sweet baking spice, with a sophisticated flinty mineral long finish.
This is an outstanding wine for several reasons. The highly aromatic Malvasia generally is vinified to sweet with a moderate acid profile. However, the heavy volcanic influence of the wine tames the perfume and flavor imparting structure and balance. This wine can age, akin to a Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley.
Malvasia Volcanica Los Bermejos is a rare wine indeed. It creates excitement and a mysterious factor much like the island itself. I would want to see more exportation, but that’s what makes it demanding and scarce to allocate. If you want a wine to taste like every bottle out there, stop by your local market. I attribute this wine like experiencing the VIP section of a restrictive lounge without price. This wine can be savored from Hi-Time Wine Cellars for a steal at $ 21. By the way, don’t be turned off by the packaging, allow it to transport you to its history.
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