The island of Lanzarote is the largest wine producer from the Canary Islands, and this year’s harvest collected predominantly during August 2015 was a bumper crop. I’ve been excited to try the new wines from our bodegas this year, as 3.7 million kilos of grapes were harvested and the wineries have produced some new wines as well as their existing brands.
Thirteen of the island’s bodegas are regulated by the Denominación de Origen Lanzarote council, these wineries proudly display the Lanzarote logo on their bottles. The optimum time to visit the bodegas to taste the full range of wines is between February and May.
If you love wine, I’d recommend booking a bodega hopping trip as part of your holiday in Lanzarote. These small group excursions visit 2-3 wineries during a full day tour, with a guide and designated driver, so you can relax and enjoy the wines on offer.
Bodegas El Grifo
Lanzarote’s oldest bodega has just celebrated their 240th anniversary and still family run since it was established in 1775. I always enjoy a wander around their museum as its chock full of memorabilia from years gone by and currently includes a photographic exhibition of the vines in different stages of growth.
It was time for our tasting, the first of which was the Malvasía Brut, a natural sparkling white wine made from 100% Malvasía Volcánica using the Champagne method. This is our favourite of the cava wines available in Lanzarote, it has an alcohol content of 12%, quite yellow in appearance with lots of fine bubbles, white flowers on the nose and very pleasant on the palate.
The second wine was the Malvasía dry Collection, this dry white wine is on limited sale, and only usually found at hotels and restaurants on the island. Made from 100% Malvasía Volcánica grown at El Grifo, this award winning wine has 13% alcohol content, it is pale yellow in appearance, and tropical fruits on the nose, white flowers when aerated and fresh on the palate. I expect this one to continue improving in the bottle.
Our third wine was Manrique’s favourite and why the Malvasía Semi-sweet carries his distinctive artwork on the label. Made again from 100% Malvasía Volcánica this semi sweet white has an alcohol content of 13% with an intense fruit aroma, straw yellow in appearance and balanced on the palate.
The group tasted the Sweet Malvasía for their fourth wine, whilst I tried El Afrutado, a semi sweet wine made from a combination of Moscatel, Diego and White Listán grapes. This is a lighter wine with an alcohol content of 11.5% but still packed with character. Pale yellow with a tinge of green in appearance, this wine is intensely fruity with some citric notes on the nose and very quaffable. It’s unusual to find this style of wine in Lanzarote, it’s a style I associate with Tenerife.
Bodega Vulcano de Lanzarote
Bodega Vulcano is a young and passionate family run company situated in the heart of Tías, just a few kilometres from the holiday resort of Puerto del Carmen, this boutique urban winery is one of my favourites on the island.
The winery is only 6 years old, they started in 2009 producing 7,000 bottles in their first year which has increased annually to reach 100,000 this year. Their branding “wines with soul & identity” and smart boutique shop show the family mean to break away from the traditional campesino wine making culture. Each bottle of wine has a message on the cork, this is to give the waiter some personality when presenting the wine, and they include love, friendship & success.
On this visit Nereida was proud to present their new unique bottle which has been designed and produced in Italy especially for the bodega. I believe that this is the only bodega to bottle twice a year, as Lanzarote wines should typically be drunk within 6 months of bottling. Vulcano took the expensive decision to refrigerate the must to enable them to ferment in April, to produce young fresh wine during the second half of the year.
We tasted 5 new wines from Bodega Vulcano, starting with the Malvasía Volcanica Seco, a dry white wine produced from 100% Malvasía Volcánica. This wine was harvested in 2014 and bottled in April 2015. This dry white has an alcohol content of 12%, it is pale yellow in appearance with fruit and white flowers on the nose, balanced and persistent on the palate.
Next in line was the Malvasía Volcánica Semi Sweet, this wine has a secret! On the marketing material, the semidulce is shown as 100% Malvasía Volcánica, it actually has 10% of Moscatel de Alejandría. At 12% alcohol content, pale yellow in appearance, the nose was citric with white flowers, fresh and balanced on taste. I thought this wine made for a perfect aperitif and bought some to take home.
Our third wine was the Rosado which was a vibrant red for a rosé, made from 100% Listán Negro and with 13% alcohol content, red fruits were distinctive in the nose and palate.
The fourth wine was the Tinto, a ruby red in colour, this young red wine made with 100% Listá Negro is aged in French oak barrels for 2-3 months. At 13% alcohol content, I could detect Mora (mulberry) on the nose, this wine was smooth and round on the palate.
Our fifth was the award winning Vulcano Dolce, a sweet desert wine which was served with stollen. To me this is Lanzarote sunshine in a bottle! Made with 100% Moscatel de Alejandría this amber nectar has an alcohol content of 15%, I can’t help but visualize the grapes drying in the sunshine leaving a lovely velvety raisin taste in the mouth. Another purchase made!
Our last winery of the day was another of my favourites, Bodegas Guigan can be found in the centre of Tinajo on the west coast of Lanzarote. This family run winery is part of the family’s home which overlooks the Mirador de Guigan, the valley where the vines are cultivated.
Surprisingly they tell us that 60-70% of the Malvasía Volcánica grape is cultivated in the municipality of Tinajo, and this bodega only uses locally grown grapes to produce their wines. The winery has a standard bottle with distinctive socks, these coloured stripes denote the type of wine, apart from their sweet wine which has a unique bottle with a long neck.
Presenting this year’s wines are Miguel and his son Oliver, our first is the Malvasía Seco a dry white wine made from 100% Malvasía Volcánica. The wine has an alcohol content of 12.5%, it is pale yellow in appearance, with an aroma of pear, fresh and floral in taste.
Moving on to the second wine which is the Malvasía Semi-Sweet, also produced from 100% Malvasía Volcánica and with an alcohol content of 12.5%. The semidulce is bright yellow in appearance, with aromas of jasmine, orange blossom and mineral on the nose and a long lasting, well balanced taste.
Now for something special, a limited edition of 2,000 bottles, Miguel was very proud to present their Crianza. Their premium Malvasía Volcánica vines were harvested for this white wine, which has spent 2 months aging in American oak barrels, using the bâtonnage method. The Guiguan Crianza has an alcohol content of 13%, hints of vanilla on the nose and a wonderfully smooth taste. There’s 6 less bottles in stock now!
The Rosado is a beautiful pale pink in colour and produced from Listan Negro, the grapes are only pressed and not macerated. The Guiguan rosé wine has an alcohol content of 12.5%, raspberry on the nose and a fresh taste. Perfect for enjoying on a hot summer’s afternoon.
Guiguan mix Syrah and Listan Negro grapes to produce their tinto, this red wine has an alcohol content of 13%, a mid red in colour with a hint of violet, red fruit on on the nose, predominantly raspberry taste.
As the sun started setting in Lanzarote, we tasted our last wine of the trip which was the Guiguan Dulce, a sweet desert wine produced solely from Moscatel de Alejandría. At 14.5% in alcohol content, this is a wine to be savoured at the end of a meal. A glorious golden yellow in appearance, the nose is floral and sun dried fruits, the taste is well balanced and long lasting. A couple of bottles made it home to my wine rack.
I love these trips, you may start the day with a group of strangers, after tasting Lanzarote, you leave as friends and budding wine connoisseurs. The island is not great at producing red wine, our growers are working hard to develop our tinto and have made good progress over the past few years.