7 June 2012

Wine tasting, Lanzarote style!

Whenever I go on holiday, I try and fit in a trip to a vineyard for a spot of wine tasting. It gives you an introduction to the types of wines the region produces, gives you the opportunity to buy local wines straight from the producer and, frankly, is a great excuse to get tipsy!

So on my recent trip to Lanzarote, I was keen to go to one of vineyards on the 2,000 hectares of land cultivated for wine growing. However, it transpired that my hotel was around 20 kilometres from the nearest vineyard and my brother kind of put me off going.

An example of a Vineyard in Lanzarote

An example of a Vineyard in Lanzarote

I think I've mentioned my brother, Bordeauxboy, on here before. He is basically the biggest wine snob I've ever met. He is the sort of person for whom you spend ages choosing wine, which just goes straight in the rack! He has an advanced WSET Qualification though, so I trust his opinion. So when he said it was too warm for decent wine in Lanzarote, I figured he was probably right. Considering that Lanzarote has around 100 mm of rainfall annually, it is amazing that anything grows there at all.

However, I was delighted when we managed to book a tour to the Timanfaya National Park in Lanzarote that included a trip to one of the vineyards. It meant I got to visit a vineyard without too much hassle or making a specific journey. 

On the tour, I learned that the wine grows, thanks to the unique way they cultivate their vines. Each plant is grown in a hole that is about a meter deep and wide and surrounded by a small protective wall called a Zocos. The pit protects the plant from the constant winds that blow across the island and helps create humidity around the plant, meaning it receives enough water to grow.

Barrels outside the Bodega Barreto in Lanzarote

Barrels outside the Bodega Barreto in Lanzarote

So the vineyards are really striking to look at. Bright, green plants growing out of the black grains of lava. For the sight alone, I would urge you to take a look at the vineyards. However, the wine tasting experience I had was pretty disappointing.

The tour took us to the Bodega Barreto and we were told we would be trying two types of wine. Apparently this family run business has been producing wine for over 100 years and several of their wines have won prizes. Most of their wines are produced from the Malvasia grape, which I had never tried before and which grows very well on the island.

The Malvasia at Bodega Barreto, Lanzarote

The Malvasia at Bodega Barreto, Lanzarote

However, when I say "trying" I mean we were literally given a thimble full. How can you get a taste for the wine when you have barely a mouthful? And I'm never going to be drunk enough to buy a case of wine based on a small dribble.

We tasted the Masdache Malvasia Seco and the Masdache Moscatel. There was also a Masdache Tinto and another couple of wines that we were not permitted to taste. The Malvasia Seco was not that dry and had quite a strong taste of vinegar, whilst the Moscatel had a nice taste, but was slightly grainy. Needless to say, I didn't buy any and I didn't see anyone make a purchase, even though they were quite reasonably priced.

I feel a bit guilty about this review, as probably, if I had gone to the winery directly as an individual, I would have got a different experience. But on this particular tour, it really wasn't great.
Enjoying a glass of El Grifo wine in Teguise, Lanzarote

Enjoying a glass of El Grifo wine in Teguise, Lanzarote

I'd pretty much given up on Lanzarote wine after that experience. But we then went for lunch in Teguise to this lovely little place called Bodega de Santa Barbara. We sat in the sun trapped courtyard, served by handsome Italians and had a platter of sausage and goats cheese whilst sipping on a delicious dry, white wine. 

When I asked the waiter what it was, I was expecting it to be Italian. However, it was a local wine called El Grifo and it was the Colleccion Malvasia variety, which the waiter assured us was the best. It had an almost green, pale colour and a very dry, floral taste. Absolutely delicious!

So, if I went to Lanzarote again, I would definitely visit a vineyard. However, I wouldn't do it as part of a tour (you don't get enough wine!) and I would pay a visit to the El Grifo winery.   


  1. Hi!!!! I live near El Grifo Winery...and I can definitly reccomend you their wines!!! You can have ( rent a car, is not that expensive and you can manage your time as you want) and have what we (my friends and I) call the Real Lanzarote Wine Tour! You just need to follow the main road from the Monumento al Campesino ( GPS now offered when renting a car) and drive to UGA: Bermejos, El Grifo, Stratvs, La Geria, Rubicón.... all of them just in a Road and..ok, I admit it, Collection from el GRIFO is the best one...you must taste the other wineries. It cost you 0.50€ -1.00€ to taste. And you can have some guided tours sometimes or just take a look inside (sometimes paying) You also have GUIGAN (LOOOOVEEEE its dry white....taste it) and REYMAR, BODEGA DE YUCO (this is ecologic wine..and it´s delicious). There are some events named "Saborea Lanzarote" od Wine and Food, or Wine and Cheese, or Meat and Cheese... In those, for only 5€ you can have a taste of a famous spanish TAPA, based on Lanzarote Cheese or meat and also taste a cup of wine from one of the 12 ( participating) wineries from the Island!!!!!
    Regards and Sun from Lanzarote

    1. Thank you so much for all the information. Really gratefully received! We will definitely be going back to Lanzarote so will take all your tips!