This Gran Canaria white wine was sex in a bottle and we didn't want to let anyone leave the island without tracking it down and trying it. That was before they put it into oak bottles and turned it into a trendy but (in our opinion) lesser wine. Anyway, here's the original review of the unoaked wine, followed by the 2021 review of the oaked version.
We've said it before and here it is again: the best white wines from the Canaries (except Lanzarote) are from high-altitude vineyards. This is 14 euros of "we told you so", and it's worth every cent.
Agala 1318 Altitud has a floral nose with apricot and a touch of sweetness. In the mouth, it is dry but rich with well-balanced acidity. You get intense fruit and flowers, and a floral finish with a little bitterness. As with all great Canarian wines the finish is long and intense.
It's the best Gran Canaria dry white we've ever tried. Sell your body if you have to but try this wine.
The Agala winery is called Bodegas Bentayga. It's between Tejeda and Artenara and at up to 1318 metres above sea level it's one of the highest in Spain. The vines grow on small terraces on steep terrain and experience a vast range of temperatures. This area of Gran Canaria gets snow during cold winters and can reach over 40ºC during hot summers.
As with most Canarian wineries, Bentayga grows local grape varieties and hand picks the grapes: 1318 is made with a blend of Albillo and Vijariego.
Visits are possible but only from Monday to Friday, minimum six people and 72 hours notice. They cost 8 euros per person and include the chance to buy wine at bodega prices. Book here.
Agala 1318 is available in good wine shops and at the wine stall in the Santa Brigida weekend market.
2021 reviewed of oaked Agala Altitud dry white wine
This wine has been one of the best Gran Canaria whites for several years. Grown in South Central Gran Canaria, it had that zing you get from blasting white wine grapes with the extremes of temperature and climate (snow to 40C) you get at over 1000 metres above sea level.
Back in 2015 we reviewed it as "a floral nose with apricot and a touch of sweetness. In the mouth, it is dry but rich with well-balanced acidity. You get intense fruit and flowers, and a floral finish with a little bitterness".
It was all about the blossom!
The concept has evolved since then and this wine now spends time sobre lías in French oak barrels.
Oak and dead yeast add intensity and depth of flavour at the expense of freshness. But is it worth all that extra effort? Can you take an excellent "drink now" Canary Islands wine and turn it into something deeper? Why would you want to?
Oak, melon and banana on the nose. Quite exciting at first sniff but there's a tired hint to the wood after a few more.
Good acidity in the mouth from the vijariego, richness from the albillo. A hint of butter and vanilla from the oak and lías. Melon and banana.
Blah blah blah!
Bring back the old version we say. The oak and butter don't make up for the lost blossom and freshness.
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