If you come to Tenerife to spend your holidays and you like to enjoy life’s pleasures, you have to try the great variety of Tenerife’s wines.
The origin of vineyards in the Canary Islands, and specifically in Tenerife, goes back to the conquest of the Islands by the Castilian crown. The varieties of vineyards brought by the colonizers themselves where white, and appropriate to produce high-grade wines, that would be easier to preserve.
The varieties that produced wines of a lesser quality came to be known as “vidueños”, while the Malvasía, originally from Greece, stood out among all the other noble varieties. The wine obtained from this variety was considered one of the best wines in the world and it was present in the european courts, as well as in the best cellars of the old and the new continent, the “Sack” or “canary” denominations became representatives of the true Canarian wine.
Between the XVI and XVII centuries, the wine and the vineyards played an essential role in the economy and society of Tenerife, reaching its peak in the second half of the XVI century, as a consequence of the sugar crisis.
Among the many references about the wine made by historians and writers of the time, there are two that deserve special attention. The ones made by Willian Shakespeare through its characters and literary descriptions, and those of Sir Walter Scott in his work “Ivanhoe”. In Shakespeare’s play “Henry IV” (second part, act II, scene IV) you can read the following when Mistress Quickly says to Doss Tearsheet: “But, i´faith you have drunk too much canaries and that´s a marvelous searching wine, and it perfumes the blood ere one can say: What´s this?”
There are other references from the same author in “The merry wives of Windsor” and in “Twelfth-Night”, where Sir Tobias asks to Sir Andres Aguecheek: “O Knigh! Thou lackest a cup of canary?…”
The english navigation laws in the second half of the XVII century, the English protection of the Portuguese wines, and the Spanish succession war at the beginning of the XVIII century had a negative influence in the international trade of the Malvasía wine, presenting important losses when compared with the previous period.
The response of the canarian wine traders to this crisis was the export of a great variety of Tenerife’s wines of “vidueño” and of “False Madeiras”, under the cover of this wine’s popularity, introducing the wines as such in England and in the English America. That is the reason why red vineyards entered Tenerife in the XVIII century, as they were necessary for the production of this wine.
Now, long after this historical and trading events, the great variety of Tenerife’s wines claim again its own personality and they rise as the best accompaniment of the Island’s cuisine. Tenerife has, today, excellent young red wines, under five appellations of origin that belong to different cultivation areas.
Vineyards and varieties
The quality of the varieties of vineyards introduced by the colonizers, together with the absence in this island of the filoxera plague that destroyed many vineyards in Europe, ended up in the creation of an excellent wine reserve.
The vineyards are between 50 and 1600 meters above the sea level. The most widely spread autochthonous varieties are the “Listán Negra”, that gives the wines of Tenerife a richness in their primary aromas; the “Negramoll”, that produces light, dry, soft, and round wines, and the “Listán Blanca” that harmonizes well with the other two. To a lesser extent other varieties like Malvasía, Gual, Tintillo, Forastera and Moscatel are also cultivated.
For the production of the Crianza and Reserva wines, the local varieties have certain limitations.
From the 106 wine cellars that are open in Tenerife, just 9 produce more than a 100.000 liters of wine.