Listán Negro is a black grape from Spain’s Canary Islands, where it now is the dominating variety for red wine. Listán Negro has often been confused with two other Spanish grapes, Listán Prieto, and Negramoll.

A curiosity is how it is planted. You find the vines dug in in small pits in the volcanic soil. Around the pits are stone walls, providing the vines with shelter for the the forceful Atlantic winds. Furthermore, instead of the more commonly used training systems (f. ex. Guyot or Cordon), the vines are braided together into a formation called “cordón trenzado” (e.g. a braided cord).

Characteristics
The grape is known for being low on acidity, which often is compensated for by blending it with for example Negramoll, another Spanish grape (and the second largest black grape on the Canary Islands).

Aromatically, Listán Negro is characterised by red berries and black fruit. It comes with medium low tannins and is a sturdy variety that will accept also small amounts of water.

On the Canary Islands, it thrives in the volcanic soil which also contributes with a mineralic touch to the wines. Listán Negro has a good disease resistance and gives a good yield. High yields can however be a negative aspect in terms of quality, since it requires thinning out or green harvest to produce high quality grapes.

Wines
Listán Negro wines are produced in (at least) four different types: traditional red wine in steel tanks, red wine with carbonic maceration (as with Beajolais Noveau), aged in oak barrels, and occasionally, sweet red wine.

Traditionally, Listán Negro will be blended with for example Negramoll and Listán Blanco, but you can also find varietal vines, also with some age to them.

Fermentation in steel tanks produces a light, fruity red wine. When submitted to carbonic maceration, the wine will have its red berry aspects amplified. When aged in oak, the wines will be more towards black fruit, spiciness, cedar, with some earthiness.

Food pairing
An excellent paring for an oak aged Listán Negro dry varietal is red meats, medium hard cheese, and charcuterie. The steel fermented, lighter red is a nice pairing to “verdura a la plancha” (roasted vegetables), rice dishes, sausages, and cheese. The light bodied, carbonic macerated Listán Negro is a very nice paring with white meats, pizza & pasta, and sausages.

Where is it grown?
Listán Negro is only reported to be grown in Spain. Since very little area (e.g. less than 10 ha/24 ac) remains on main land Spain, the grape’s stronghold is on the Canary Islands. Here you find it covering some 2.666 ha 6,588 ac, above all on the islands of Lanzarote and Tenerife. The variety saw a decrease of nineteen percent between 2000 and 2010.

History
Listán Negro is thought to be indigenous to the Canary Islands, and very little is, as of today, written about its early history. One reason for this can be that it for a very long time has been thought to be identical to Listán Prieto, or, a colour mutation of Listán Blanco (a synonym for Palomino Fino). Genetic testing has however shown that Listán Negro is not related to any of those varieties.