Camels help with harvest at Bermejos. (Photo by Peio Arruabarrena.)

Fabulous New Arrivals From The Canary Islands & Values From Mainland Spain!

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Not long ago, recommending a wine from the Canary Islands elicited shock. Curiosity about the region's exotic local grape varieties like Listan Negro, Diego, and Negramoll has slowly supplanted disbelief and the wines now have enthusiastic followers that help to keep the Spanish shelves interesting. But the question still arises: How can a subtropical climate such as that of the Canaries produce balanced wines, let alone complex or exciting ones? The volcanic archipelago, although part of Spain, is located just 60 miles off the coast of Africa (on approximately the same latitude as the border between Morocco and the Western Sahara). Altitude plays a major role, with vineyard elevations reaching upwards of 1000 meters (nearly 4000 feet). More generally (and somewhat counterintuitively), the Canary Islands are not hot. They are cooled by strong Northeasterly trade winds and the so-called "Canary Current," an ocean current that moves cool water from the Nordic regions toward the equator. Average temperatures on the islands rarely exceed 80 degrees.

Microclimates and elevations vary significantly among the ten quality wine regions (DOs) designated in the Canaries. The delicious blends of Fronton de Oro come from vineyards planted 1000 meters up on the volcanic slopes of Gran Canaria island. D. Antonio Ramirez has been farming the family vines since the 1970s and, together with his sons, producing wines for local consumption since 1999. We are delighted to have new vintages of their light and elegant Listan Negro-based Tinto and earthy, fuller-bodied Malpais back on the shelf. Bermejos is back as well, from unique black ash soils on the eastern-most, warmer, and lower elevation island of Lanzarote, where the low-yielding vines must be nested in large craters to survive the island's fierce winds.

Bermejos' white wines, made from Malvasia and Diego, are as distinctive in flavor and texture as the terrain that gives them life. Also in stock: A tawny-hued Listan Blanco from Juan Matias Torres on the island of La Palma and a red wine from Tacande on Tenerife, made of the electrifying red Baboso!

This offer concludes with recent arrivals from the Spanish mainland, including several new favorites under $15, a truly elegant organic Albarino from Nanclares, extreme Garnacha from Bodegas Zerberos in Avila, Rafa Bernabe's 100% Merseguera, and the weirdest, most wonderful Cream Sherry we could find. Cheers! AR

Bodegas 501 El Puerto de Santa Maria Zurbaran Cream

Bodegas 501 was founded in 1783 in El Puerto de Santa Maria. Their unusual and charming cream sherry — Zurbaran — does not date back that far, but no one seems to know how old it is! The solera had not been tapped for 20 years (and maybe more) before this wine was bottled and the results are fascinating. Aromas are rich and botanical, with halvah, ginseng, cocoa powder, fennel seed, pencil shavings, peanut skins, and cracker jacks. The sweet palate is not cloying like some cream sherries, but clear and bright: pretty fresh figs and chewy raisins, salty roasted peanuts, gentian root, milk chocolate, and more of those beguiling halvah and ginseng notes. This gets a rare rating of "Yummy!" and is highly recommended as a fresh alternative to port for cheese plates, desserts, or simply for drinking in repose. Ariana Rolich

  • white flor
  • 4 in stock
  • $24.99

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Frontón de Oro 2011 Gran Canaria Tinto

This light and pretty vintage of the Tinto flawlessly channels the subtle fruit and herbs of Listan Negro (blended with Tintilla) in a way that is fascinating for the seasoned Canary Islands drinker as well the curious novice. Mellow black raspberry, dusky mulberry, bitter cherry, and the juice of fresh heirloom tomatoes float across the palate with the telltale whiff of ashy earth and salty island air. (There's something about Listan Negro that makes me think about reds from the Jura... This one is the color of Trousseau, with some of the notes I find delightful in Poulsard. Just a thought!) A great pairing for vegetarian fare and charcuterie. AR

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $15.99

Frontón de Oro 2011 Gran Canaria Malpais

We welcome the return of Malpais, which is one of the prettiest, most distinctive blends from the Canaries (as well as the most requested)! Brambly blackberry and dandelion greens on the nose, with gentle flavors of sweet blueberry, savory green nettles, briny olive tapenade, and crunchy dry earth. Preto, Tintilla, and Listán Negro combine for precise tannins and distinctive herbal flare reminiscent of still Pinot Meunier. Drink with braises, burgers, roasted eggplant, and kalamata olives. AR

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $21.99

Bermejos 2012 Lanzarote Diego Seco

Fans of Bermejos' subtle, minerally Malvasias will adore this wine! Aromas of sweet pineapple, crisp green apple, herbal lemon balm and white pepper; clear-fruited flavors include lemon and pineapple, with a hint of fennel, ash, and maraschino cherry on the bright and mineral palate. AR

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $19.99

Bermejos 2012 Lanzarote Malvasia Espumoso

100% Malvasía from Lanzarote (the eastern-most of the Canary Islands) made to sparkle via Méthode Champenoise, with 9 months on the lees. Complex and fascinating, with a pretty, spicy nose of orange blossoms, chamomile, marzipan, baked peach, purple flowers and clove; a dry, rich, complex palate of beeswax, buckwheat honey, blood orange, apricot, pink grapefruit, bitter almond, and a kiss of smokey minerality, courtesy of volcanic soils. Bold, bright, and nuanced. A great surprise for lovers of Champagne and offbeat sparklers. Ariana Rolich

  • Out of Stock
  • white sparkling
  • 0 in stock
  • no discount
  • $27.99

  • Low Sulfur

Matías i Torres 2012 La Palma Listán Blanco Las Machuqueras

Victoria Torres farms her father's two hectares of vines in Fuencaliente on the western-most Canary island of La Palma, where his family has tended vines for 5 generations. Climate varies dramatically on La Palma due to multiple and sudden shifts in elevation, but Fuencaliente is high and cool. The Listán Blanco comes from a "Las Machuqueras," a single plot of un-grafted vines on crunchy volcanic picon soil, some older than 100 years (phylloxera never made it to the Canary Islands). The wine is fermented in stainless steel with native yeasts for a couple of days on the skins, and 7 months on the lees. The result is fascinating: a pale golden-bronze in the glass with distinctive aromas of wild fennel, musky papaya, stone fruit, chlorine, and a hint of diesel. The palate is broad, saline, and juicy, with demure Meyer lemon, fresh apricots, clarified butter, lime pith, and a salty/ashy mineral finish that we look forward to tasting in Canaries wines. An offbeat and transportative wine for a very fair price. Ariana Rolich

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $19.99

Viñas de Tacande 2008 Tenerife Tacoronte Acentejo Viña Tinto

Juan Jesus Mendez specializes in exotic varietal wines from own-rooted local grapes for his Vinatigo label. Tacande Tinto is one of Mendez' several side projects, blending 60% Baboso plus roughly equal parts Tintilla, Vijariego Negro, and Negramoll from the Tacoronte-Acenteo in the north of Tenerife. Aromas of savory coffee beans, blackberry sap, wild nettles, sea salt, and bay leaf zap you from the glass; the palate is broad and electric, with gushing red and purple berry fruit, sweet roasted cherry tomatoes, bitter berry stems and seeds, the umami of salty soy sauce, and generous acidity. Baboso wines cannot help but command attention, but this is one of the most novel and fabulous yet! Enjoy with barbeque, charcuterie, or a pot of spicy chili. Ariana Rolich

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $37.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Via Arxentea 2012 Monterrei Treixadura y Godello

Via Arxentea is equal parts Godello and Treixadura from the sandy/clay soils of Monterrei in Galicia, fermented with native yeasts and raised in stainless steel. Exotic and spicy aromas of lime zest, crisp pineapple, white grapefruit, meyer lemon, and subtle pink florals prime the palate for flavors of crisp green apple, musky guava, freshly cut grass, gentle acidity, and a long, mineral finish. AR

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $14.99

Vina Zorzal 2011 Navarra Graciano

A rich, textured red from 35-year-old organic Graciano vines in Spain's Navarra region. Perfumed and pretty, with fresh purple fruit and ripe raspberry flavors, rose and violet florals, cinnamon spice, smooth tannins, and balanced acidity. Unfined, unfiltered, and fermented with native yeasts. A delicious bargain! AR

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $10.99

Ponce 2012 Manchuela Clos Lojen

Juan Antonio Ponce's entry level cuvee, from 30-year-old organic and biodynamic Bobal vines in Manchuela, is light-bodied but full of intense fruit and acid — dense black raspberry, tart purple plum, and wild blueberry fruit with pronounced minerality and taut youthful tannins. This is a lifted, poised, and positively delicious natural wine at a price that encourages stockpiling. According to Ponce himself, this vintage of Clos Lojen is the best he's made and worthy of aging. Ariana Rolich

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $12.99

Quinta Milu 2012 Ribera del Duero Milu

Milu is a rich and delicious everyday wine from Quinta Milu, a small project in the Ribera Del Duero. Subtle baking spice and wild raspberry aromas, with a balanced palate of dense and delicious boysenberry fruit, velvety tannins, and a remarkably clean finish. Grapes for Milu are foot-trodden and raised in used French and American oak barrels of various sizes. A great little Duero for the money and welcome addition to the shelves! 100% Tempranillo. AR

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $14.99

Nanclares 2011 Rias Baixas Albariño

Alberto Nanclares farms two hectares of vines (some dating back to 1910) on the shores of Rias Baixas in Galicia, Spain. This is organically-farmed, hand-harvested, artisanal Albarino that really stands out for its elegance and precision. Gentle orange blossom and fresh yellow apple on the nose, with hints of lime zest, flint, and seaside mist. The palate is pert and gracious, with tangy citrus zests, lemongrass, subltle tropical notes, excellent mineral depth, and a long, clear, salty finish. Of the many Albarinos over $30, Nanclares is one of the few to actually taste expensive. Perfect with shellfish, sushi, whole roasted fish, fresh vegetables, and on its own. AR

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $34.99

Daniel Ramos Zerberos 2010 Castilla y León Del Tiemblo Los Chorrancos

When I first tasted this wine, I was instantly fascinated (and hooked).The Gredos Mountains, west of Madrid, are home to the most awe-inspiring and balanced Garnachas in the world. Power, tannin, and acid meet subtlety and terroir-expression in this unique, high-altitude region that is largely unknown to wine lovers, but will be acknowledged one day soon as the source for the world's highest expressions of the Garnacha grape. Del Tiemblo Los Chorrancos is a fierce and floral cuvĂ©e from the north-facing granitic sand and schist vineyards at upwards of 1000m surrounding the village of El Tiemblo (in Avila's Alberche River Valley). Aromas are cool, floral, and mineral, with cherry blossoms, rose, resin, rosemary, lavender, and sweet clover honey. The palate is anchored by finely-dispersed tannins, acidic spine, and slatey mineral depth, with shimmering raspberry, rich kirsch, rosemary, and savory forest floor. I have given this wine as a gift and opened it among friends a number of times. Yet I confess to wishing for my own bottle to sip and contemplate quietly... hopefully with a side-gift of some slow-roasted pork.This wine's elegance, depth, and beauty are not possible to describe completely. It is sure to change the way you think about Garnacha. Ariana Rolich

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $39.99

  • Organic

Bodegas Bernabé 2011 Alicante La Viña De Simon

Alicante's Rafa Bernabé is making some of the purest and most stimulating natural wines in Spain. We were pleased to see Rafa's reds earn admirers and are now pleased to present one of his whites: Viña de Simon is 100% Merseguera from a single sandy hectare of 70-year-old, phylloxera-resistant vines. Merseguera is usually blended with fuller-bodied, more perfumed varieties, but Bernabe's doesn't need it! Vivid aromas of orange skins, bitter almond, gardenia, clove, and petrol precede a vigorous palate of orange oil, lime peels, pear skins, grippy tannins, white pepper, and the bitter pith of chewed-up lemon seeds. There is great tension and acidity to this white, making it a mouthwatering apéritif or unexpected pairing with meatier fish, roasted chicken with lemon and garlic, rich charcuterie, and roasted vegetables with citrus and herbs. AR

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $24.99