Islands through their wines
The Canary Islands, the Balearic Islands, Sicily, Sardinia... what would summer be like without these island paradises and their wines?
Wines produced on islands always have something special about them. The sea has a bearing on the climate and the scent and moderating effects of the sea breeze, alongside other factors, can lead to interesting weather conditions and soils producing unique wines. Some island soils are volcanic, which adds a smoky touch to the wines, like the hints of ash so common in wines from the Canary Islands. Most islands usually have a wide range of traditional local grape varieties which are hard to find elsewhere. Manto Negro or Callet grapes from the Balearic Islands, or Sicilian varieties like Grillo and Nero d'Avola are fine examples.
Vines grow excellently in the climates usually found between the lines of latitude 30º and 40º north. Pleasantly mild seasons, enough rainfall, and plentiful sunshine are the perfect recipe for the abundance of vines and other crops thriving in these regions. For this reason, the Canary Islands, the Balearic Islands, Sicily, and Sardinia are perfectly placed to make good quality wines. In fact they have been the home to some of the most original wines in the world for centuries now, although their relative isolation from the mainlands means these wines haven't always gained the popularity they deserve.
The sweet white Malvasia wines from the Canary Islands are world-famous. Red wines made from local varieties like the Listan Negro from the Valle de la Orotava valley on Tenerife are also well-admired.
The biggest wine producer of the Balearic Islands is Mallorca, with iconic wines made from the delicate Callet grape or white wines made with the Prensal (Moll) variety, a seductive adaptation of the Xarel·lo to the Balearic climate.
Wines from Sicily and Sardinia stand out in Italy. The volcanic and chalky soils of Sicily, the largest Mediterranean island, are perfect for producing single-variety Nero d'Avola wines, while the small island of Pantelleria is famed for its renowned sweet wines.
The star grape from Sardinia is the Cannonau, the version of Grenache which has adapted to the soil of the island. Splendid wines produced here blend the pleasantness of this variety with the character of Mediterranean island wines.