Visiting Las Canarias with Bowler Wines
In 2019, I was invited along with a group of folks from the Spanish wine world to check out the Canary Islands in person - the first time that I had ever been! It was an eye-opening adventure in a landscape like I’ve never seen before. I’m thrilled to share some of my favorite wines from the Canary Islands with you for the May wine club shipment!
The Canary Islands or Las Canarias is an archipelago of small islands located 100 km off the Moroccan coast. It’s home to a wide variety of grapes growing nowhere else in the world. The islands themselves are other-worldly, formed by volcanoes and battered by Atlantic trade winds, helping to define some of Spain's most unique wines. Many vines are planted almost upside down, in holes that help protect them from the winds. They are knotted, gnarly and strong - signs of the toughness the maritime climate requires. In the Canary Islands, you’ll find some of the oldest vines in Spain. During the phylloxera blight in Europe in the early 1900s, they were largely protected because of their isolation.
The varietals in this shipment are most notably found in Las Canarias - you may not recognize them!
- Listán Blanco & Listán Negro: much variability in style, from rose wines to low-tannin reds
- Albillo Criollo: a white grape with a delicate fragrance and fresh, citric palate
- Malvasía Volcanica: an obscure variant only grown on the island of Lanzarote, fresh and floral followed by a slight spice and acidity
- Negramoll: universally described by winemakers as the Pinot Noir of the Canary Islands
My good friend and guide to all things Las Canarias is Jessica Gualano. She’s no stranger to Asheville - she used to run a wine shop in town called Wine Studio. Before Cúrate opened, she was kind enough to let me use the shop to meet wine reps and taste wines when I was creating our first wine list. Now, Jessica manages national sales for Bowler Wines, a small importer with a diverse portfolio focused almost exclusively on small growers, especially ones who employ a non-interventionist approach in the vineyard and cellar. Jessica has been in the wine industry for nearly 20 years, with a career spanning restaurant, retail, wine education and consultation. Bowler Wines is well-known as the most important US importer of wines from the Canary Islands.
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