Last September our Wine Pairing Weekend group explored the beauty of volcanic wines. You will recall I shared with you that volcanic soil is incredibly fertile; a true bounty of nutrients. Vineyards planted in volcanic soil produce some of the finest wines in the world. An area rich in volcanic soil is ideal for growing grapes due to the dense nutrients, it tend to hold water well due to their high ash content, and tends to be highly acidic. All three of these are a winemakers dream! Many recognize volcanic wines as having characteristics of freshness, acidity, savory minerality and the potential for longevity. Having an entire region of vineyards on volcanic soil? Well it doesn’t get any better than that!
As you know I had the pleasure of attending Vinisud 2016 as an ambassador. It was a truly wonderful experience of meeting great people, tasting extraordinary wine, eating delicious food and attending many highly educational classes. One such class featured the Volcanic Wines of Soave and was taught by the highly knowledgeable, entertaining and always engaging Soave enologist, Giovanni Ponchia. It was an excellent class featuring high quality wines. I am excited to share with you some of what I learned from Giovanni.
Recently the Consorzio di Tutela del Soave has been dedicated to projects and promotions of Soave and its territory. Soave recognizes the “close connection between the product and its place of origin” and has worked tirelessly as the forerunner in initiatives to educate and promote the Soave region and its wines. Through the efforts of the Consorzio they determined “the most sought after wines for communicators and trade professionals almost always derived from terroirs of volcanic origin and from grape varities that were long-established in their respective areas.” I am no expert but I am certainly drawn to wines of volcanic origin time and time again. The Consorzio’s research project to deepen the study of the soil in relation to the characteristics of the wines has resulted, among other things, in a beautiful 75 page book on Volcanic Wines of Soave. It is a gold mine of information. I wish I could share the entire book with you. There is no way I can do it service in this brief article but I will pull out a few highlights.
“We know more about the movement of celestial bodies than about the soil underfoot.” Leaonardo da Vinci
“Volcanic wines is, today, probably one of the most interesting projects that succeeds in creating a national network by linking very different production and organizational systems, all of which are highly motivated in promoting the value of their regions and their distinctive grape varieties.”
“Garganega, Durella, Falanghina, Grechetto and Carricante showed perfectly, even in long term, how the relationship between the grape variety and the territory, in areas of volcanic origin, could be depended upon to yield wines with a highly distinctive character, thus testifying to the fact that there are special places in which vines…are able to express to the full inimitable and unique taste characteristics.”
“The slopes of volcanoes are very often difficult to cultivate because the hardness of the rocks or due to their steepness. Often the vineyards to which they play host are the result of centuries of toil, re-modeling the surface of the earth with impressive terracing that make such landscapes into true works of art.”
Interestingly the Consorzio’s research indicates that the soil of the Soave region, as opposed to other Italian volcanic wine regions, has undergone “a great deal of evolution and acquired complex structural features” that are characterized by a modification in the minerals. This is significant because generally old soil is characterized by a “certain acidity and low nutrient content;” however, in the case of Soave’s volcanic soil virtually neutral pH levels exist. Therefore, you simply must try the beautiful, crisp, mineral driven white wines of Soave!
Here are the wines we tasted, fast and furious, I took very few notes:
Sacramundi Lessini Durello DOC Spumante Classico Riserva 36: 100% Durella; Chiampo production area; orchard fruit, citrus, lively acidity, fine perlage, nice complexity, soft and pleasing; traditional method; vineyards 380 meters above sea level with eastern exposure, a geological mosaic; 12.5% alcohol
Casarotto Lessini Durello DOC Spumante Riserva 36: 100% Durella; Montecchia di Croscara production area; orchard and citrus fruits with buttery toast; tangy and zesty with persistent bubbles, round acidity; traditional method; 36 month fermentation, 12.5% alcohol
Vitevis Gambellara DOC Classico Monopolio 2015: 100% Garganega; Gambellara production area, basaltic, tufaceous soil; area also known for producing sweet wines with Garganega such as Recioto and Vin Santo.
Cantina di Monteforte Soave DOC Classico “Clivus” 2015: 100% Garganega; Monteforte d’Alpone production area, Soave is the largest production area in Italy specializing in white wine, “Classico” is reserved for products made with grapes harvested and vinified within the communes of Soave and Moteforte d’Alpone, which are the oldest origins in the historic zone.
Sandro De Bruno Soave Superiore DOCG “Monte San Piero” 2011: 100% Garganega; Monte Calvarina, Ronca production area; basaltic and tufaceous soil; crisp and clean on the palate with orchard fruit, citrus zest, nutmeg and brioche; a lovely sparkling wine; traditional method; 13.5% alcohol.
Like I said the Volcanic Wines of Soave class lead by Giovanni was fast and furious. Packed with information and some delicious wines. I strongly encourage you to visit your favorite local wine retailer or online wine source and buy some sparkling and still Soave white wines right away!
My Song Selection: Each of these volcanic Soave wines were energetic, lively, crisp, and full of mineral driven flavor. This song is exactly what they tasted like!
Get your own bottle of Soave wine and let me know what song you pair with it. Cheers!