Spain | The Islands
With the Canary Island’s in the Atlantic and the Balearics lying in the middle of the Mediterranean, the Islands of Spain offer a wide range of wine styles from Listan Negro-based reds to dessert wines made with Moscatel. In the Balearics, the islands of Mallorca and Minorca offer an increasing number of small production wines from indigenous and international grape varieties that are of very good quality, but only a handful are exported for consumption in international markets.
The dramatic, lofty Canary Islands sit at a latitude of roughly 28°N, making them the most tropical of Europe's wine regions. Because of the hot and humid conditions it would be considered that the Canary Islands are not ideal locations for growing wine grapes. However, the islands do have individual climatic and topographical features that make wine production possible. The altitude of the stone-terrace vineyards (up to 1000 metres) is vital and for the majority, this ensures that freshness and acidity are maintained in the grapes. Another important factor is the soil, which is largely derived from the islands' volcanic activity. The soil imparts mineral and subtle, salty notes to the otherwise largely aromatic local wines.
A vast range of indigenous grapes are grown for wine, and international varieties are largely absent. The local varieties are suited to the sub-tropical climate and some are regarded as being of extremely high quality and demand high prices due to their complex nature. The production of quality wines is aided by the islands' overall growing conditions in addition to the age of the vines, as phylloxera never reached the islands and thus imported rootstock was not needed.
The Canaries' largest island, Tenerife, is home to many of the region's DOs with the remaining designations covering the islands (in their entirety) of El Hierro, Gran Canaria, La Gomera, La Palma and Lanzarote. Each island has its own unique microclimate and soil composition, lending to distinctive wines with signature mineral notes.