Many Brits can last a winter up until about mid January before they start falling apart. The jet stream delivers warm currents to our south western shores that deceives us into believing that we are further south than we really are. Unfortunately, come February, the jet stream itself seems to have abandoned us, so like migratory birds many people flee the UK for sunnier climbs.
A favourite place for many with guaranteed warmth are the Canary Islands sitting off the coast of north Africa. In recent years these islands have had their reputation blighted (ironically) by us Brits who turn up there by the plane load and party like crazy. A colleague of mine has just returned from Lanzarote with tales of a much fairer nature.
The island of Lanzarote, we hear, is very beautiful. Step outside the tourist hotspots and you’ll find a treasure trove of small coves and villages. The beaches are black from the volcanic stone but the allure of sunshine, swimming and Spanish island culture is enough to whet the appetite.
Now add to this that Lanzarote is a unique wine producing place where vines grow in picturesque solitude in the Le Geria valley, in small craters especially dug out to protect them. In some cases stone barricades are built in small semi-circles to protect the vine from harsh storms that blow across the landscape. The brittle rock provides exceptional drainage allowing the roots to dig deep and rely on a constant source of drinking water.
Colleague Caroline strolled back into the office, refreshed and brandishing a bottle of Rubicon, a semi sweet wine from the island. Very little of the wine washes up on these shores because production is small, quality is high and locals and visitors love it. Yup, they sell out.
Bodega Rubicon - in the heart of La Geria
The Bodega Rubicon first started out in the middle of the 18th century in the heart of the picturesque Le Geria valley in Lanzarote. The rugged landscape is dominated by the vines that grow in an orderly, precise looking arrangement.
Bodega Rubicon uses new wine making technology to produce sweet and semi sweet wines. The sample that Caroline returned with had a distinct light white peach aroma, with very balanced acidity that crucially preserves the freshness and avoids cloying. There is a mineral note to the wine, which I would use to describe a stoney, non-fruity domension. Some scientists say that minerality and the terroir where the wine grows are not related. In this case then, we can only point to a high-level of circumstantial evidence. It’s a perfect aperitif wine, serve chilled with an array of cold tapas. each glass begs another.
Malvasia is an ancient grape variety grown predominantly but not exclusively in the Mediterranean. It is used almost exclusively to produce sweet wines and is very common in places like Spain, Italy and especially the Canary Islands. As evidenced here, malvasia can produce highly quality charming wines.
The tip: If you’re on the island, take a day out and visit some wineries (bodegas). If you spot a bottle here in the UK, pick up and take it home. If you can’t get any then at least try a malvasia wine from another country. It’s worth getting an idea of what this tasty grape can offer.