I was recommended a bottle of white wine from the Canary Islands a few weeks ago, by another amazing local wine merchant at Hi Time Wine Cellars. When somebody I trust gives a me a suggestion, and the wine costs under $25, I don’t ask questions. I just buy a bottle. To be quite honest, I had no idea what I was buying, just that it would probably be interesting, and delicious. Those are the perks to knowing a few wine salesguys you can trust!
Lanzarote, the farthest east of the seven main islands where our Malvasia is from, is one of the most challenging places in the world to grow grapes. More than a third of the island is smothered in black volcanic ash, and the terroir is constantly whipped by insanely strong winds from the northeast. The locals have found an ingenous way to counteract the whirlwind surroundings- by creating vine bunkers! Every vine is planted in a small, round ditch, which is then surrounding by a stone wall. Camels are used to transport the grapes to the wineries- can you imagine the picture this presents on a black, ashy desert, against the stark blue Atlantic?
The wine was crisp, refreshing and zingy- it has a lasting minerality that curiously reminded me of pencil lead and smoked seaweed. This was one of the most interesting wines I have tried recently. It’s clear the unique terroir of this moonscaped place shines through into the wine. I’d bet the wine will age amazingly- it will likely be 20 years before the acidity begins to tone itself down.
I love discovering wines from new and exciting places. Keep your mind open and taste as much as you can. Ask questions of your wine merchants. Find out what they’re excited about and I guarantee you’ll go home with some interesting options as well. Happy hunting, wine geeks!