Posted by: tomciocco | August 2, 2011

VITIS VINIFERA’S FIRST TRIP ABROAD – TO THE CANARIES?

Oh yeah, the Canaries…Where are they they again? The Canary Islands are seven, and they’re located just bit off of Morocco’s southwestern coast. The Canaries’ main island is Tenerife, a name which almost as much as the name Shangri-La, conjures a sort of elusive paradise, and indeed, all of these volcanic islands are green, sunny, and ruggedly beautiful (this wine comes from Gran Canaria) though sadly, their early history is far from paradisaical.

Almost 90 years before the prow of Columbus’  boat hit San Salvador’s sands, Castile had invaded, quickly subjugated, and not long after, completely annihilated The Canaries’ indigenous people. As is often said,  this action became the Spanish crown’s first teeth-cutting but nonetheless brutal try at imperialism…

So as early as the first quarter of the 1400s, the Spanish began planting vines in what might be considerd to be the very first location in “The New World”. And like all vines take to volcanic soil like fish take water, these rocky island became covered with vine laden pergolas…Perhaps predictably, a nearly 600 year tradition of viticulture, and the archipelago’s geographical isolation, has left a legacy of rarities and mutations both red and white. This particular wine is made from two varieties: Tinta Comun, and Tintilla. And as it turns out Tintilla is identical to Tintilia, a variety which is found nowhere else but in the Molise region of Italy. The Spanish Crown did long hold sway over both places, but how, or who brought this variety to The Canaries, and when, who knows…

Similarly, I know precisely squat about Canarian food, so I decided to make something that I thought might go well with what I expected from the wine, and that was green beans stewed in tomato, olive oil, and dill (served room temperature) and then an old stand-by: Hommus with meat (ground lamb, cinnamon, allspice, and pine nuts) with olives and pita bread.

S.A.T. Camaretas Gran Canaria Tinto “Fronton de Oro” 2009 

Transparent slightly browned rose color. Wild and rustic nose of dried flowers, cherry, toasted almond, manure, boiled celery, and ground cardamom and coriander. The body is medium-light with a bold, slightly seedy tannin structure,  full of black pepper and flavors of strawberry, old leather, cream soda, red plums, and bottled pomegrante juice. The finish is dry with echoing flavors of sunbaked earth and wood.

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