A stunning sweet wine from the Canary Islands

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Winemaker Ignacio Valdera with one vine in a hole on ash-covered Lanzarote.

The wines of the Canary Islands were once very big in Philadelphia, say, about 240 years ago, when ships docked from Tenerife and the Founders toasted their independence, according to some reports, with glasses of "Canary Madeira." Well, a new wave of Canary wines has arrived here, and I'm fascinated by their character. In particular, the white Malvasías that grow on 200-year-old vines on the cratered black volcanic lunarscape of Lanzarote are especially intriguing, with a proximity to the salty ocean air, African winds, and flinty, smoky, minerally soils that inform their distinctive sense of place. Perhaps even more fascinating is how different two versions of the same grape made by Bodega Los Bermejos can be. The dry white ("seco") has a crisp, citrusy edge and a rich mouthfeel to balance its snap. The copper-hued sweet dulce is the real stunner. Made from late-harvested grapes in the "solera" style that blends multiple vintages, there's an oxidized quality that tempers the sweetness, an almost ice-cidery savor of reduced apples, with a tint of oranges, acidity, and spice.
- Craig LaBan
Bodega Los Bermejos Lanzarote Malvasía Seco 2015 750 ml, $18 or so; Lanzarote Malvasía Dulce (NV) 500 ml, $27, at WineWorks in Marlton; Joe Canal's, West Deptford. The dry Malvasía is at a.Kitchen and Vetri. The dulce is also at Townsend, Vedge, Amada, and Laurel.

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