When it comes to fine wines the places we think of are France, Spain, South Africa and even Australia. I bet one place you do not think of along with Antarctica and Ecuador is the Canary Islands.
This little chain of Islands who belong to Spain are home to a handful of wine producers who are making some of the finest and highly regarded wines in the whole of Europe. I went down to Manchester’s very own slice of the Canaries La Bandera to learn all about it and enjoy a tipple or two.
People did not expect this area to produce fantastic wines for a number of reasons. In general, the Canary Islands are hot and dry and if you look at them on a map you will see that they are parallel with North Africa and just a smidge up from the West Sahara dessert. So yeah, for the most part, it is safe to say it is pretty hot.
However, the islands might be predominantly hot and dry, but there are actually over 100 different microclimates across the islands. For example, in Tenerife, there is a little pocket of humid land around Mount Teide which is perfect for growing vines. This mountain traps the clouds which creates a greener, wetter climate.
So not only are these Islands capable of growing grapes, the subsequent wine is also delicious and highly regarded by critics. But again, this wasn’t always the case. The Canary Islands are Volcanic -dormant of course, your favourite holiday destination isn’t going to go up in flames anytime soon. For a long time, wine experts thought that the volcanic soil was no good for making wine and therefore the wine made on the Canary Islands was cheaper than water.
We now know that volcanic soil is probably the most fertile and nutritious on the planet and is indeed excellent for growing wine. When this was discovered fifteen years ago, the price of wine from this region shot up and are now the most expensive in Spain.
There are about 5-6 wines that come from the Canaries and are mainly whites and roses. They are very unique and are well recognised in the wine world and have won lots of prestigious awards. One of these producers of wine is Tajinaste based in La Orotava in the North of Tenerife. The vineyard is family run and has been going for years and when I say family run I mean it. It is run by Agustín García Farrais and his parents who are 70 going on 35.
Due to the fact that Canarian wines were not highly regarded for a long time, this made the winemakers had to be experimental and creative which is one of the reasons this wine is so special. Tajinaste, for example, uses Listan Negro grapes in their wine which are the small grapes produced on very old vines that are towards the end of their fruit producing life. This created an extremely unique wine- ruby red and full-bodied with notes of cherry, rose and black pepper.
These wines are delicious, and the only place I have ever seen them is at La Bandera. They are experts in the wines from this region and Tanjinaste is the perfect pairing for their delicious food. I would highly recommend pairing the white with the Carrilleras De Bacalao Embarradas (cod cheeks) and the red with the Bistec De Ternera Con Salsa Trufada (flat iron steak with mushroom and truffle sauce).
La Bandera are experts in this wine, so if you want to learn more about it make sure you head down- they would be more than happy to tell you more about these beautifully unique wines.
La Bandera, 2 Ridgefield, Manchester M2 6EQ
0161 833 9019