Top 10 volcanic wines

18th February, 2016 by Darren Smith

VolcanoAs well as being one of nature’s most impressive phenomena, volcanoes contribute to the making of some stunning and very distinctive wines, combining fresh, mouthwatering acidity, saline or flinty-peppery ‘minerality’ and remarkable longevity.

As the recent Institute of Masters of Wine (IMW) volcanic wines seminar and tasting made plain, however, there’s more than one type of volcano in the world and, inevitably, more than one volcanic wine style.

Perhaps owing to the keen interest that the wines of volcanic regions such as Soave, Alsace, Etna, Santorini and Tenerife have stimulated, a wealth of scientific inquiry into these regions’ soils has also been generated.

The seminar, hosted by Sarah Abbott MW and co-ordinated by Abbott along with Nancy Gilchrist and IMW events officer Camilla Fitzgerald, highlighted some of the key scientific questions that volcanic terroirs raise – questions that have implications for our understanding of terroir in general: how could the chemical components of these distinct soils be responsible for a ‘volcanic style’? Are soil structure and the availability of water more important in expressing such a style than vineyard location, grape variety and microclimate?

The answers to these questions may still be up for debate, but fortunately that does not prevent us from appreciating the great wines that volcanoes produce.

Here are our top 10 from the IMW tasting…

4 Responses to “Top 10 volcanic wines”

  1. Nick Oakley says:

    Etna, Santorini, Tenerife, Pantellaria. I get these. But Alsace? Volcanic?

    • Olivier Humbrecht says:

      There were two types of volcanic activity in the region: submarine in south Alsace, before the emergence of the VOsges mountains above sea level, and more recently in the Kaiserstuhl in Germany. The ashes and vocanic dusts sedimented in the sea and got compacted as the Vosges were pushed out of the sea in a rock called Grauwacke.

  2. Luigi says:

    I cannot believe that any wines from the Campania region was not featured! Greco Di Tufo, Lacryma Christi to name but 2.

  3. See the wonder book by John Szabo MW call Volcanic Wines, recently available online too. Beside the well known regions, some lovely pockets of volcanic terroir to discover.

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