Spainorama Dos

The other indigenous Spanish grapes on hand at Tuesday’s Spanish wine tasting, put on by David Bowler Wines, were listan blanco and listan negro. What does the OCW say about listan blanco?

synonym for palomino, the white grape variety that can produce superb sherry around Jerez, but results in dull, flabby white table wines almost everywhere else. Official Spanish vine statistics of 2004 listed 10,200 ha/25,000 acres of Listán, the name by which the variety is known in most of Spain, notably on the Canary Islands (see below) plus 18,000 ha of Palomino Fino. The French vine census of 2000 still found 400 ha of Listan, mainly in the western Languedoc and in the Armagnac region.

The vine’s productivity and hardiness made it a popular choice when large parts of north western Spain were replanted after phylloxera struck. Listán/Palomino (often known as Jerez in Galicia and Rueda) has also been grubbed up there, however, at an increasing pace since the mid 1970s. It is usually replaced by native varieties, from verdejo to godello, that had been on the verge of extinction. However, Listán has found one last refuge on the canary islands‚ volcanic soils, where it can produce table wines of much greater individuality and distinction than on the Spanish mainland. The rebirth of Canary wines in the 1990s thus gave this much-maligned variety a new lease on life.

And listan negro?

recently appreciated grape which dominates wine production on the island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands, planted on several thousand hectares. Carbonic maceration has managed to coax exceptional aromas out of this medium-bodied wine. The grape may also be called Almuñeco.

One producer at the tasting, Tajinaste, had some really distinctive wines. They were showing three: the 2007 Blanco, 100 percent listan blanco and 2007 Tradicional and the 2007 Barrica, both 100 percent listan negro.

The white smelled like champagne, yeasty with some sweetness like cotton candy. High acid but rich green fruit like star fruit.

The Tradicional, which the producer’s website says 20 percent of spends time in oak, smelled really young but then the nose went to culinary herbs, like my garden. It was dry with noticeable acid and drying tannins.

The Barrica (sold in six packs) spends four months ageing in oak, two in new French and then, the website says, two to three month in American oak. The math is a little off, but the time in wood, definitely muted the herbal aromas and gave it a silky mouthfeel. It was long on the palate, medium acid, tannin and alcohol, and long on the palate. It was subtle, where the Tradicional was boisterous.

The website, in directly translated English that makes for some cute turns of phrase, says the wines come from the DO Valle de la Orotava, and some from vines planted in 1914.

The Carnary Islands are just off the coast of North Africa at a latitude of 28 degrees.

This article from the International Herald Tribune, Canary vineyards and history: camels transport grapes, it’s phylloxera-free and the vineyard managers have to dig shallow holes in the black volcanic soil around the vines to protect them from the trade winds.


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