Rioja and Ribera del Duero now roll off our refined palates just as easily as Bordeaux and Bourgogne.
But, have you ever thought of trying a wine from the little known Denominacion de Origen of La Palma? La Palma is part of the Canary Islands, sitting farthest out in the Atlantic Ocean and is closer to the northern coast of Africa than to Spain.
A few years ago, whilst in Spain on an assignment, I was invited to a small dinner at the home of the President of the Canary Islands...naturally, I couldn't refuse. The President made a special effort to explain the viticultural history of the Canary Islands: wine has been produced on the islands for the past 500 years he told me proudly...in fact, Shakespeare makes reference to the Canary Island wines in Twelfth Night and King Henry IV..."You have drunk too much canaries, and that's a marvelous searching wine."
Notwithstanding the wonderful dinner, there was a red wine from La Palma that was outstanding: the Torres Negramoll from Juan Matias Torres Perez.
Juan Matias's family has been making wine on La Palma for over a hundred years. Initially, all the wine was made for the family's consumption and later, what remained was sold to a local restaurant. In 1999, everything changed. Juan Matias held the reins of the vineyards and decided to bottle the vintage and sell it. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Today, Torres produces four wines, two whites, one sweet Malvasia and the red Negramoll, with the total production of the estate is only 1200 cases a year. So if you can find his wine, buy it.
Torres's winemaking is truly old school, to the point where the red grapes are trodden by foot. The wines mature in old American oak barrels and are bottled unfiltered. Today, his daughter, Victoria, is taking more and more responsibility off her father's shoulders.
The Negramoll is rich, smooth and with a subtle mineral touch that mirrors the terroir: the island's weather is humid and often misty and the red soil is rich in iron. It was delicious with the shad roe next door at Eli's Table, but I would also try it with some charcuterie.
At Eli's List we have:
Torres Negramoll 2012