Given the prominence of Canarian wine 500 years ago (Shakespeare was a huge fan, in case you missed the post about that), I’ve found it difficult to understand why it isn’t more widely available. Apparently, almost every drop produced is sold within the Canary Islands and only very small quantities are exported on special request.
This, amongst other fascinating wine facts, I discovered on a visit to the Bodega Comarca Valle de Güimar in Tenerife, better known to local residents as the wines marketed as Brumas de Ayosa. The bodega nestles in the hills above Arafo, overlooking the fertile Güimar Valley, with impressive views over a myriad of small fincas which supply this co-operative. The main road leads eventually through forests to the Teide National Park, so it’s easy to find.
Brumas de Ayosa, like most producers from the south of the island, is known for its white wine, although I learned that the old idea that “the best whites are from the south and the reds from the north” is changing, though it still holds true overall.
In April, with the new growth on the vines in the valley just beginning to flourish, the place was deserted. Our visit began in the outside area, where anxious farmers deliver the grapes, all are thoroughly checked and analysed before being accepted and prices confirmed. It was clear that the bodega is very proud of its reputation and adheres strictly to the standards laid down by the EU.
Valle de Güimar is just one of no less than 5 “denominaciones de origen” on this small island. Others are Abona, which is the area most familiar to visitors including Arona and Adeje; Valle de Orotava in the bountiful north of the island; Tacoronte-Actenjo also in the north; and Ycoden-Daute-Isora, which straddles the island from Guia de Isora in the south to Buenavista in the north.
Inside the vast shell of a building we saw huge vats where the wine is fermented after being checked and processed, and how it is bottled and labelled after it’s passed rigorous quality controls. My favourite part however was learning about how my favourite sparkling wine is produced. Here in Güimar traditional methods are used, the same ones used in Champagne in France, and I finally understood why these wines are more expensive, since so much work requires hands-on attention.
You can imagine that we were dying to try the wines after all we had seen, and after the tour we were taken to the tasting room where a large, central table had been laid with cheese, chorizo, figs and of course, dry bread. We were introduced to each wine and then, basically, left to taste and enjoy and pretend that we knew something about them.
It had been a delightful morning, which cost, for a party of 13, only €6 a head. The wine supplied for tasting at the end was over-generous and our guide was very knowledgeable and friendly. I also learned that all bodegas on the island sell directly to the public, although not all can arrange tours like the one we had. Distribution has always seemed a bit iffy to me, but since I now understand that they sell every drop they produce perhaps it is that it simply isn’t necessary…so I see more trips to bodegas in my future!
Category : days out
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