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My most esoteric theme yet—wines from islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean (the Azores, the Canary Islands, Madeira). Canary Island wines have made inroads into the US marketplace in recent years, and (to my surprise) the Azores have followed suit to a limited extent. Some grapes will be familiar to Iberian wine aficionados, some are distinctive to the islands, and one wine is made from a non-Vinifera grape. Two bonus wines: a Madeira to finish the dinner, and to start, a 24-year-old fortified apéritif wine, Lajido, which I brought back from a trip to the beautiful Azores in 2003. I’ve already run out of characters, so I’ll let Jancis and Co. tell you all about these wines: https://www.jancisrobinson.com/articles/the-volcanic-wines-of-the-azores https://www.jancisrobinson.com/articles/tenerife-island-of-wine-and-historic-discoveries 2015 Azores Wine Co. O Original Verdelho (Pico, Azores) $15 Jancis Robinson 16/20 – Interestingly marine and lively, and very much a table wine. Very competent winemaking. 2013 Suertes del Marqués Vidonia (Tenerife, Canary Islands) $25 Wine Advocate 93 – From two very old, ungrafted vineyards. The vines are mainly Listán Blanco (aka Palomino Fino from Sherry). This is a serious, super-austere, mineral white with a sharp palate, great liveliness, acidity and freshness. It is mineral! 2017 Azores Wine Co. Arinto (Pico, Azores) $58 Not rated. 2015 vintage Jancis Robinson 17/20: “Reserved on the nose. Mineral on the palate – not unlike sucking on lemon-soaked gravel with a side of samphire. Hint of cream and aloe, some wild honey, but very dry. Long and addictively interesting.” 2016 Azores Wine Co. A Proibida Isabella (Pico, Azores) $38 Not rated. 2014 vintage Jancis Robinson 16.5/20: “This is apparently produced from the Isabella grape, one of the oldest native American varieties and probably Vitis labrusca. I presume from the name that it is prohibited for 'quality wine' hence the name of this bottling. If it is Isabella, it is the best example I have ever tasted – lovely juicy cherry fruit. Deep cherry red, mouth-watering without excess fruit sweetness. Lively and youthful." 2014 Suertes del Marqués El Ciruelo (Tenerife, Canary Islands) $33 Jancis Robinson 16/20 – Mainly Listán Negro and 3% Listán Blanco. 90-year-old single vineyard. Aged for 15 months in oak casks. Captivating nose showing earth, touch of lilies, red fruits and peppery character. Limited acidity and low concentration but well-resolved overall balance. Herbaceous finish. 2015 Suertes del Marqués Solana (Tenerife, Canary Islands) $27 Wine Advocate 93 – This is a plot that was planted with Listán Negro some 100 years ago. There are some meaty notes intermixed with the freshly cracked peppercorn, dried flower and wet pumice stone aromas of Listán grown on volcanic soils. The palate is vibrant and fresh, very tasty with fine tannins. A meaty character here that makes me think of Syrah, and I think it could come from the iron in the soil. 2016 Borja Pérez Ignios Orígenes Vijariego Negro (Tenerife, Canary Islands) $40 Not reviewed. 2015 vintage Wine Advocate 94: “One of the best examples of the variety, a benchmark for this local red grape. The destemmed grapes fermented in stainless steel. An elegant wine, with an expressive nose mixing rose petals, wet rocks, tangerine peel and a peppery twist. The palate is light to medium-bodied with fine tannins and a tasty, almost salty finish.” 2016 Borja Pérez Ignios Orígenes Baboso Negro (Tenerife, Canary Islands) $45 Not reviewed. 2015 vintage Wine Advocate 93: “Baboso Negro is Pérez's obsession. The earthy/volcanic, pumice-like aromas are clearly there, with a touch of smoke too, and a medium-bodied palate that reveals fine tannins and good freshness. 1-hectare plot.” BONUS DESSERT NV Broadbent Rainwater Madeira (375 ml) Wine Spectator 89 – A sweet yet still fresh mix of almond, dried orange peel and piecrust notes, with a thread of green tea through the finish.