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LUNAR LANDSCAPE

Friday, September 07, 2018

The wonderful world of wine never ceases to amaze me. Every now and then over the last 30 years I have seen/heard of some really amazing things. Here is one such example – vineyards, in what appears to be a lunar landscape.

There has been much discussion over time about the spacing of vines. That is whether they should be “close planted” as is often/usually the case in Europe or spaced further apart as is usually the case in Australia and other countries where the vineyards are more mechanised. Then, as in the case of some of the older vineyards in Spain, where they are planted as bush vines in very arid areas.

However, the unique vineyards on the windswept island of Lanzarote in the Spanish Canary Islands, has added a complete new meaning to the phrase, “not close planted”, as you can see from the images below. 

 

The vines are planted in the volcanic ash soil and each has a protective wall built around it to shelter it from the strong winds that prevail. This ash by its nature is very absorbent, so water is retained for much longer that in “normal” soil. It also has great thermal insulation properties so that the soil temperature remains consistent despite fluctuations in the air temperature. 

 

Most of the island is tree-less and looks more like a lunar landscape than an earthly one. It wasn’t always like that – up until the volcano erupted in the 1730s the island was green and lush like the other Canary Islands are.

Wine grapes thrive in the unique environment with its cool Atlantic breezes (which make the nights quite cold) and warm to hot African temperatures (which make the days hot).

 

As on the island of Santorini in Greece where they have created the “basket” or “birds nest” trellising system to protect the vines from the local winds, in Lanzarote they have developed their unique planting system to prevent the prevailing Atlantic winds from knocking young vines over or even blowing them out of the ground. I imagine that the yields in these vineyards are not exactly measured in tonnes per hectare. However, it is said that these wines are of great quality.

Around three quarters of the vines grown are Malvasia and most of the grapes are turned into sweet wines. The best known and most famous of these is the rich, sweet, luscious wine known as “Malmsey”, which is very similar to an aged “Madeira”. This wine was admired and loved by many European monarchs in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Of the other grape varieties grown there, most are the Canary Island native Listan Negro variety. A red variety which can make attractive, distinctly aromatic wines when made through carbonic maceration, or bigger style wines when traditionally vinified. It is predominantly used to make Rosé and a smaller amount of red wine ‘Tinto Joven’ (young red wine).

So with its landscape looking more as if it was on the Moon or Mars than on Earth, the wines of Lanzarote are, I am told, quite heavenly and worth keeping an eye out for. If you have ever tasted one, please let me know what you thought of it. Cheers and have a great vinous week!

THIS WEEK’S WINE REVIEW:

In the five years that I have been doing weekly wine reviews on my blog, I have never reviewed two wines in the one month from the same winery, let alone two weeks in a row.

This week I am forced to break that rule because the wines coming out of KALLESKE WINES in the Barossa are that bloody-good that I can’t ignore them. www.kalleske.com

Last week I reviewed their mind blowing CCCLXV DURIF 2017 which has all the oomph and flavour just like a great Rutherglen Durif without having to wait for a few years for the monster tannins to subside. It’s rearing to go and so classy!

Well this week I am talking about the KALLESKE 2018 ZEITGEIST SHIRAZ.

 

Made in the same style as the Durif (using wild yeast in open fermenters) this wine has masses of purple/red colour. The bouquet is brimming with the aromas of ripe plums, stewed fruits and a faint trace of cloves. On the palate it is deep and rich with lashings of beautiful, juicy fruit flavours. On the long, lingering finish it is sumptuous without the truckloads of tannin one normally finds in a big Barossa Shiraz. It’s rearing to go with or without food right now. You don’t have to wait eons for massive tannins to be tamed, and yet it will cellar for quite a few years and become even more sublime.

I believe that the alchemists at KALLESKE have mastered the art of making big, bold Barossa reds in a style that makes them drinkable right now without assailing one’s palate with monster tannins. 

A brilliant achievement and ideal for today's instant, "right-now" society. I wonder how long it will be before others follow down this trailblazing path rather than making thin, weedy, drink-now wines.