■ Viña Frontera
A widely known, sold, and consumed wine that is the mainstay of this winery’s economy. It is clearly a calm and easy wine, a mirror image of this island…
■ Viña Frontera Verijadiego red aged
A variety that is full of stories, especially on El Hierro, where it is even finer and more elegant. The color is of low-intensity, but very attractive and crisp…
■ Gran Salmor naturally sweet wine
Another sweet wine that reflects the Canary Islands’ benevolent climate. Its sherry-like style combined with its oxidative touches makes it special…
The first documented grape plantation on the Canary Islands was founded in Northern Tenerife in 1497 by the Portuguese, Fernando de Castro, who brought the Malvasia grape to the island.
The next known record refers to a John Hill, who planted the first vineyard on El Hierro in 1527. Five centuries later, the archipelago’s southernmost island has emerged as a relict for numerous grape varieties that have become extinct in the rest of the world.
The principal vine cultivation areas are distributed among the three districts of this small island. One is the Valle del Golfo (La Frontera district), with the highly esteemed Verijadiego Blanco covering part of the mountain (bordered by a laurel forest on one side and unidentifiable forests on the other) and partly extending around the town of Sabinosa, while in the lower area other varieties like Bremajuelo Blanco, Baboso Blanco, Listán Blanco, Listán Negro, and Baboso are plentiful. Another area is Echedo (Valverde district), where Verijadiego Blanco, Listán Blanco, and Listán Negro are prominent. Finally, in the area of El Pinar (the third district, in the South), the varieties Listán Blanco, Listán Negro and Verijadiego Negro find their home.
Though the dates at which this whole group of varieties arrived are unknown, they came to stay, and lately they have spread to the other islands as a result of their surprising quality and originality. This has enabled the insular wine-growing industry to establish a policy of wine production with a personality that boosts the qualities of each variety, especially the various monovarietals, but also their different combinations.
On the Canary Islands, there are various synonyms for the Vijariego grape: in La Palma it is called Bujariego; in Lanzarote, Diego; in El Hierro, Verijadiego…
The winery has operated since 1986 and produces a wide range of wines, determined by the results of every harvest, according to the vintage and the quantity of some minor varieties. The largest harvest is the Verijadiego Blanco that is used to make various white wines, 65% as fruity white (mainly from the mountain Verijadiego, which provides structure, alcohol content, sugar, and acidity, but also using some of the grapes from lower areas to add aroma, such as the Bremajuelo, the Gual, and a small percentage of Pedro Ximénez and Forastera).
…But recent studies have determined that the white grape from El Hierro is a different and unique variety
On the Canary Islands, there are various synonyms for the Vijariego grape: in La Palma it is called Bujariego; in Lanzarote, Diego; in El Hierro, Verijadiego. But recent studies have determined that the white grape from El Hierro is “a different and unique variety on the Canary Islands and the process of legally establishing it as an independent grape has begun,” explained Rafael Armas, the assessor of the winery and researcher at the Canary Islands Institute of Agrarian Research (ICIA). The Verijadiego Negra, on the other hand, is indeed the same as Vijariego Negra.
But there are many other unique varieties, which can be found only on this island, and deserve greater attention, as has been demonstrated in recent years. Viña Frontera produces a wine with the best-known of these: the Baboso Negro (see previous chapter).
But there are others. For example, the Baboso Blanco that has been used to make small editions of wine on the island, as well as to run tests at the experimental winery of the ICIA. When “we had an international tasting event with a working group that came to the Canary Islands, the Galician technicians said that this grape reminded them of Galician varieties like Albariño, Terixadura, or Godello. Nevertheless, it hasn’t been distributed very widely.”
Rafael Armas, oenologist:
“As research continues, more varieties are being discovered, for example, Verdello from El Hierro, which is also unique”
“As research continues, more varieties are being discovered,” continues Armas, “for example, Verdello from El Hierro, which is also unique, but since there is already a Verdello on the Canary Island, current legislation does not permit registration of this denomination because it cannot have a name based on where it geographically occurs, so we are trying to find a different one.” (He assures us that it was an “almost extinct [variety], and about ten years ago a gentleman in La Ladera grafted some new vines from a few that had been rescued. Studies were conducted, and it was discovered that it has great potential because, among all the varieties of the Canary Islands, it is the one that produces the highest yields in kilograms per vine, as well as a greater alcohol content and higher total acidity than most other grapes. Now viticulturists from other islands are asking about it almost daily because they want to plant it [on their own estates].”
■ Sociedad Cooperativa del Campo de Frontera
El Matorral 55, 38911 Frontera (El Hierro), Islas Canarias (España)
Phone number: (34) 922 556 016
● Capacity: 500,000 liters.
● Average production: 250,000 bottles/year.
● Exportation: Spanish Peninsula