D.O. La Palma

With an area of 726km2  and an impressive orography, La Palma is the island that presents the greatest heights in relation to its surface. The island is full of contrasts and luminosity, with high peaks and deep gorges, lush forests and volcanic areas full of colour, all of which have led to the nickname of “la isla bonita”. La Palma is home to a vast range of grape varieties that, together with modern production techniques, have allowed the island to produce many pleasant surprises, not only with their classic white Malvasia wine and wines derived from the ancient "canary sack", but also their rosés and reds, which are also signs of excellent quality.

The island of La Palma forms part of the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean, located in northern Africa, near the coast of southern Morocco and the Sahara, and forms one of the seventeen autonomous communities of Spain. The history of vines and wines in the Canary Islands dates back to the fifteenth century, when settlers planted the first vines with the aim of producing wine for local consumption rather than importing it from outside. These settlers, from diverse backgrounds, brought the best strains of their respective regions and countries and planted on the land granted to them.


It is said that the first vines were planted in La Palma in 1505, brought over by the conquerors. During the 16th century, wines from the Canary Islands built on prestige and quality, with wines being exported to Madeira from 1515, to Jerez from 1517, and to England in 1519. This rise in popularity and reputation was mainly down to the high quality of the regions sweet Malvasia wine, known as “Canary” or “Canarias”, to the facility for export given its strategic situation of transit of ships between the continents of Europe, America and Africa, and also that the vine was a good substitute for sugar cane, whose market was being taken over by America.


History tells us that wines from the region have had many admires over the years: Shakespeare, Walter Scott, Góngora, Alexis Kuprin, Goldoni, Maine Reid, Spillman, Rey Carlos III …., where the seductive Malvasia wines were being at palaces and other major European courts. This fame, as well as the privileged geographical location of the island, resulted in a flourishing trade in wine which soon became the islands main source of wealth. In 1848 Canary wines saw a major decline, with the attack of powdery and downy mildew, causing the culture of wine a serious setback. And with the start of the banana crop in coastal areas of the island, by the mid-fifties of last century, many of the vineyards were left abandoned.


However, in 1994, the official creation of the D.O La Palma signalled a major transformation of the sector in the region. Abandoned vineyards were recovered, planting new vines and producing wines that are building a reputation at home and abroad, and sold at reasonable prices. Until now, the transformation has been difficult, with the suitability of varieties and wines looking to never reach the island, perhaps since production was just too far from the innovations that occurred on the peninsula. But for some years the positive spread of Spaniards arrived on the island wineries, and even amid adverse weather conditions, modern oenology is now a reality in La Palma. 

However, it should be noted that perhaps because of this estrangement with the mainland, the Canary Islands were unaffected by the phylloxera, so it became a veritable museum of the vine, with over 33 varieties of grape, some missing today, but it is still one of the largest and most varied ampelographic wealth of the world. One of the peculiarities of the Canary vineyards is that the vines are planted directly in vine stocks on their own roots, with large physiological and oenological advantages represented produce wines with the purity of vinifera without the influence of rootstock, and even if we consider that all of them were introduced from Europe in the fifteenth to eighteenth centuries, before the phylloxera swept through the vineyards, so here are preserved with a high degree of purity.


 


Climate, Soils and Varieties.


Viticulture in La Palma extends substantially across the island. Currently, the island is home to 1,100 registered winegrowers and 20 wineries, with over 600 hectares of vines being grown and cultivated at altitudes ranging between 200 and 1,200 metres, in a strip surrounding the island almost continuously. Production on the island is divided into three main sub-regions: Norte de La Palma, Hoyo de Mazo-Las Breñas and Fuencaliente-Las Manchas.


In the northern zone, also known as the “vinos de tea”, the grapes grow on trellises, as well as goblet trained vines in the far north. The name “vino de tea” comes from the peculiar flavour of resin, due since the wines are stored in barrels made from the heartwood (tea) of the Canary Pine. The most interesting are the well-made rosés, with a clear “ateado” (tea) taste, which are an oenological curiosity that simply must be discovered. The most prominent grape varieties in this subzone are Negramoll, Listán Blanca, Albillo, Almuñeco and Verdello.


The Fuencaliente subzone is located in the south of the island.  It is the one with the most remarkable vineyard and also the best known thanks to the historic prestige of its malvasías. The vines climb the steep, volcanic slopes. The vines are conducted as creepers over land covered by volcanic cinder (picón) that can reach a depth of over two metres in places. Stone walls are used as windbreaks in windy areas; a system that attains its high point in the area known as Las Machuqueras. Grape varieties grown in the reigon include Malvasia Candia, Listán Blanca, Bujariego, Gual, Verdello, Bastardo Blanca, Sabro and Negramoll. The area is perhaps best known for its naturally sweet malvasía wines, amber color, aroma and filled intoxicating bitter flavors and acids at once.


The region of Las Manchas is located southwest of the island and includes the municipalities of El Paso and Los Llanos. The vineyard is grown on rocky terrain on steep slopes. The most abundant strains are Listán Blanca, Negramoll and Bujariego.


The region Hoyo de Mazo and Breñas is located east of the island.The typical feature of the area is the creeper-like way the vines are trained, on sloping lands cushioned either with volcanic rocks (“empedrados” or cobbled) or with “picón granado” or cinder. The main varieties in this area are the Negramoll and Listán Blanca, complemented by small plantations of foreign varieties.


Wines and Wineries of DO La Palma.


Their are various styles and varieties of wines from DO Palma, such as dry whites, which are often aromatic and light, with fresh aromas of flowers and fruits. The vast majority of white wines are young, which reinforces the personality of the grape varieties used, where Listán Blanco, Bujariego and Albillo are the three most well-known. Rosés and reds are also produced in the region, again the majority are relatively young wines, with the majority produced using the Negramoll variety, although sometimes small amounts of other varieties are added, such as Listán Prieto, Almuñeco, etc.


A typical wine from the northern subzone is the Vinos de Tea, which can be a white, rosé or red wine. These wines acquire their qualities from ageing in the heartwood of “Pinus Canariensis” (tea or canary pine). In addition, the north can further be distinguished into two zones, the Northwest and the Northeast. Both differ in terms of viticultural techniques, grape varieties used, artisan production techniques, etc. The more traditional vinos de tea come from the Northwest of the region, a steep slope cut by numerous deep ravines, where the vineyards are at altitudes between 800-1500 metres. Vinos de tea are often developed with a mixture of varieties, with white varieties such as Listán Blanco and Albillo, which usually mature before the mixture and bring the necessary amount of sugar. The red variety, later, the Negramoll, supports acidity and colour, while El Prieto and Muñeco or Almuñeco, are earlier than the earlier maturation and provide greater amount of colour to the vinos de tea. 


Another characteristic wine of the region is the so called naturally sweet (naturalmente dulces) wines, made with the Malvasía grape variety, which is usually grown in areas of Fuencaliente and Villa de Mazo. To produce these wines, the grapes are allowed to ripen on the plant until it starts shrivelling to a raisin, reinforcing the presence of sugar and alcohol content. They are amber, noble and extremely aromatic wines. El Sabro is another important variety in the production of sweet white wines. The region has even started producing natural sweet red wines, made with the Negramoll variety.


The DO Palma is home to large, medium and small sized wineries, as well as around half a dozen cooperatives. One cooperative worth mentioning in the SAT Bodegas Noroeste de La Palma, founded in 1998 with only 50 members, which has since increased to 250. The wines are produced under the North Vega brand, with their white wines produced with Listán Blanco and Albillo grapes, their reds with Negramoll, Almuñeco and Listán Prieto, and their rosés with Negramoll. Among the wines produced by the cooperative includes the white wine Vega Norte Albillo Criollo, a single variety Albillo, fermented in soft toasted French oak barrels for 7 months on its lees with a daily battonage.


Another winery worth mentioning in Bodegas Juan Matias y Torres, a small scale family winery, it is one of the oldest of the island, dating back to 1885. The winery is located in the subzone of Fuencaliente. The winery produced 3,000 bottles of their Matías y Torres blanco, produced with the Listán grape, as well as 7,000 bottles of their red made with Negramoll, as they do with their rosé. However, their star product is the Colección Minúscula de Albillo, with only 500 bottles produced per vintage, with each label hand painted as an original work, as well as their naturally sweet wine Malvasía Vid Sur, with a limited production of 800 bottles.


Then there is Bodegas Teneguía, with over sixty years of history, this is one of the most awarded wineries in the Canaries. The winery is located in Fuencaliente, with cultivation carried out using the practises passed down the generations: Treating the grapes by foot, traditional pruning vines centuries varietals that have only been preserved in this town and old vines Malvasia that is only achieved in the Llanos Negros, a natural plot located on the slopes of the San Antonio volcano. The winery produces all kinds of wines, from single variety or blended whites, reds and rosés and aromatic Malvasias, under the labels Teneguía, Caletas, La Gota and Zeus. 

Wineries belonging to the D.O La Palma:

Outstanding wines from the D.O. La Palma:

  • Matías i Torres Albillo Criollo 2014

    White wine Aged on its lees. 4 months on lees in stainless steel vats. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: Juan Matías Torres. Production area: La Palma. Grapes used in this wine: Albillo.

    • Parker 93
    20,50 VAT incl.
    Out of stock!
    Sold out
    Online only
    Matías i Torres Albillo Criollo 2014

    White wine Aged on its lees. 4 months on lees in stainless steel vats. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: Juan Matías Torres. Production area: La Palma. Grapes used in this wine: Albillo.

    • Parker: 93
    20,50 VAT incl.
    Out of stock!
    Sold out
    Online only
  • Matías i Torres Negramoll 2014

    Red wine Barrel. 6 months in bottle and 7 months in French oak barrels. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: Juan Matías Torres. Production area: La Palma. Grapes used in this wine: Negramoll.

    • Parker 91
    23,10 VAT incl.
    Units
    Buy
    Online only
    Matías i Torres Negramoll 2014

    Red wine Barrel. 6 months in bottle and 7 months in French oak barrels. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: Juan Matías Torres. Production area: La Palma. Grapes used in this wine: Negramoll.

    • Parker: 91
    23,10 VAT incl.
    Online only
  • El Níspero 2014

    White wine Young. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: El Níspero. Production area: La Palma. Grapes used in this wine: Albillo.

    18,75 VAT incl.
    6x
    17,80 €/u
    Units
    Buy
    El Níspero 2014

    White wine Young. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: El Níspero. Production area: La Palma. Grapes used in this wine: Albillo.

    18,75 VAT incl.
    6x
    17,80 €/u
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