The specialist in grape genetics Francesca Fort, full professor of the Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology (attached to the Faculty of Enology at the Rovira i Virgili University in Tarragona), gave a talk on grape varieties this Thursday, June 27 identified in the Canary Islands, within the programming of the Campus del Vino de Canarias 2019, organized by Ycoden, Daute and Isora, with the collaboration of the Canary Islands DOP (Canary Wine).

Francesca Fort Photo.- Yuri Millares

In the exhibition, Fort contributed the results of what will be the last publication made by the Enology Technology research group in the area of Vine Biology at that Catalan university, which has identified four new local varietals and two new color mutations, that add to the 19 varietals and the three mutations collected in other studies already published.

 20 years of Viñátigo varietal defense

Taking advantage of the visit and exhibition of the results of Francesca Fort, we remember the beginnings of the study of the Canarian varieties, about 20 years ago, where Bodegas Viñátigo assumed the leading role with a differentiated bet against a Canarian wine sector, including the Public Administration , which bet decidedly by the introduction of foreign varieties as a key tool to achieve a substantial improvement of Canarian wines.

The philosophy and values of Viñátigo Winery that we know today began to be forged at that time, at the beginning of the year 2000, when the team of Viñatigo under the direction of Juan Jesús Mendez undertook the development of a different project, subsidized by the Institute Nacional de Investigación y Tecnología Agraria y Alimentaria (INIA), based on the ampelographic description of Canarian varieties.

All this was done following the guidelines of the International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV) and completing with fertility studies and typing of the musts obtained, in order to define for each variety the most appropriate pruning and enological potential of all of them.

Juan Jesús Méndez

Subsequently, several studies were carried out with the University of Zaragoza, through projects financed by the Interreg European Territorial Cooperation Program, in which all the varieties were aromatically characterized, with the conviction that the future was in the singularity that said varieties They could provide.

As a result of all these works and collaborations, the contact with the University Rovira and Virgili of Tarragona, in principle with the aim of deepening the oenological knowledge. However, this contact ended up also leading to the beginning of the microsatellite identification of the DNA of the Canary varieties.

The importance of not having phylloxera

The variety of varietals has its origin in the historical evolution of the vine in the Canary Islands. According to an article by Antonio Macías Hernández, professor at the University of La Laguna, the first vines came to the archipelago from the hands of the religious, who used wine for the Eucharist.

The first gateway could be Gran Canaria, where the Jesuits introduced a Mallorcan variety known as Fogoneu. But not only the religious brought vines to the islands.

The colonizers brought different varieties from their region of origin to each island, which favored the biodiversity that was maintained thanks to the absence of phylloxera, a plague that did affect most of the European varieties in the nineteenth century.