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Listan grapes

by | Nov 20, 2016

Off the coasts of Northern Africa sits the Canary Islands much like the discarded toy from childhood days, almost forgotten off and unattended to.


This is not always the first place that pops into mind when thinking of Spanish wines. However the vineyards of this island can be dated back to the 15th century. It is the home to 30-something aboriginal varieties which have been untouched by Phylloxera for centuries.

Among these native varieties is the white grape variety known as Listan or Palomino. Palomino aka Listan is from the region of Andalucia in south-west Spain.

This grape variety is primarily used in the production of Sherry, covering almost 95% of the total area of the vineyards of Jerez region.

Wine grape varieties

Other region where Listan is found outside of Jerez is France, South Africa, Australia and California. In California it is often used to make Grape brandy.

Earlier the grape variety was often thought to be the same as Golden Chasselas. The main reason why Listan is used for the production of Sherry the fast oxidizing property of the grape must.

Listan is found in abundance, particularly in the Lanzarote and Gran Canaria region of the Canary Island. As any other grape variety of the Canary Island they have never been touched by Phylloxera and hence many of the vines here are as old as 100 years but yet can produce wine as fresh as a Daisy.

History of the Listan Grape

Believed to have originated in the Andalucia region this Grape variety is supposedly named after King Alfonso X’s knight Fernan Ibanez Palomino, who was an official of some importance during Reconquista, time conquest between the European and Moorish army.

After having successfully eluded the Phylloxera, the Canarian vines fell prey to Powdery Mildew for nearly 100 years. As a result, these Canarian wines which counted Christopher Columbus and Shakespeare as its groupie was lost for centuries.

It was only a few decades ago that these wines became known again. In 2006 the Spanish Researchers through DNA profiling discovered that most of the Spanish wines were planted by Jesuit and Franciscan missionaries all around the New World. cv

Other names by which this variety is known in various regions are Fransdurif, Listan Blanco, Manzanilla de Sanlucar and Listan de Jerez.

Viticulture and wine making process for Listan

This is one of the most cultivated varieties in the Canary Islands spread across all altitudes.

Apart from the fact that this variety produces great quality wine it also has very good agronomic attributes.

A photo posted by Vinos Sembra (@sembrard) on

It not only produces high yields, but also but also has high resistance to any kind of vine related diseases. This variety is also particularly resistant to heat strokes which occur just before harvest.

Its versatility is also demonstrated by the growth of sweet and aromatic wine producing grapes, which generally thrive in the cooler regions. All of these characteristics well justify the reason for their expansion.

Listan is an early ripening variety which is harvested in the early days of September. The must undergoes a number of pressings and the product at the end of each pressing is used in the production of different products.

The product of the first must pressing is called Primera Yema and it is used in the production of Manzanilla and Palomino Fino (Listan). The second pressing gives Segunda Yema which helps in the production of Oloroso.

Further pressings lead to the production of lesser quality wine and Vinegar.  The must undergoes fermentation in stainless steel vats until the end of November to produce Dry Blanc wine with 11-12% alcohol in them.

The production of sherry can be done in two ways. Either they are allowed to age under a thin whitish layer of yeast (flor) which prevents them from oxidation or they are allowed to stay in contact with air and partially age under yeast.

After this they are bottled using the method of Solera where the older sherry is drawn from the bottom of the barrels and they re refilled by newer batch from the top.

Characteristics of Listan Grapes

The mature leaves are generally lobed orbicular and medium sized. The petiole sinus base is usually U shaped with no overlapping edges. The clusters are generally medium in size with conical or cylindrical shape.

The grapes are round, yellow with white pulp and colourless juices. They have a rather neutral flavour with low acidity and high alcohol content.

Food pairings with Listan wine

The Fino variety can be served with mushrooms and lime vinaigrette, nuts, almonds and olive pastes, grilled asparagus with romesco sauce.

Manzanilla serves best like an aperitif. Oloroso can be paired with mature cheese soups. Sherry can be best paired with cheesecakes covered with strawberry.

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Michael Bredahl

Michael Bredahl

Wine Writer

Michael is an online enthusiast, with a lot of knowledge about online marketing. Traveling around the world to hunt for the perfect wine. Latest on Sicily, where Etna has a huge impact on the taste, which is strong with a bitter aftertaste for the youngest wines, but older wines are fantastic. Drinking wine, and writing about them, are one the passions. Remember to drink responsibly 🙂

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