Ain't No Volcano High Enough

Free tasting | Saturday, October 13, 2018 | 4-6PM

Ain’t No Volcano High Enough (To keep me from growin’ on you, babe)

Volcanoes, babe. Across the spectrum they are the coolest 5th grade science fair project and one of the most naturally destructive forces there is. They are also pretty uncommon - only 1% of the planet is actually covered in volcanic earth. But what does this have to do with wine?

Volcanic soil carries minerals found in no other soil composition. Lava doesn’t need to have spewed across a land mass to give the earth volcanic qualities. John Szabo, MS (who wrote a book on the subject called Volcanic Wine, Salt, Grit, and Power) defines volcanic soils as “soils that formed from parent volcanic material that include lava and other fragments that settled into the soil.” These particles from ash remain in the soil forever. The volcanic ash from the solo eruption in Santorini, Greece over 3 MILLION years ago is still in that soil today! 

Having been coated in ash from an eruption is great for vineyards; the ash helps the earth retain moisture, it protects the soil from erosion, and traps heat from the sun before re-radiating it to adjacent vegetation. Winemakers crave, need, WANT this volcanic terroir so bad that they to risk their lives and vines by growing vines on the sides of active volcanoes. Just because a volcano has exploded in the past doesn’t mean it’s a tamed volcano. Mt. Etna in Sicily is an active volcano and in 2017 unfortunately injured 10 people after magma exploded upon contact with snow. The constant danger is also what keeps these areas isolated and allows traditional wine practices to thrive!

On Saturday we're exploring wines from the Canary Islands in Spain, which is most famous for an explosion from 1730-1736 that completely altered the landscape. We'll also travel to Santorini, Greece, where a volcano exploded so fiercely that it collapsed onto itself and some say it inspired the unusual happenings in Exodus. There’s also wine from Campania in Italy, where the great Mount Vesuvius famously wiped out Pompeii. Finally, there’s the mighty Mount Etna in Sicily where, in Greek mythology, Persephone liked to gather flowers. When Hades abducted her, he opened a crevice in Mount Etna as an entrance to the Underworld. Yikes!

The wines that hail from these volcanoes are fierce, gritty, structured and powerful. Taste them, and you’ll be BLOWN away!!!

The EXPLOSIVE Line-up:

2017 Argyros ‘Atlantis’ (Santorini, Greece) | About 3 million years ago there was a volcanic eruption on Santorini that was so intense that it caused the volcano to collapse onto itself and it possibly inspired the myth of Atlantis! Needless to say, the soil of Santorini is pretty mineral driven and edgy. This is where Yiannis Argyros has taken up his family’s winemaking tradition and produced this blend of Assyrtiko, Aidani, and Athisi. Each of these grapes were vinified in stainless steel separately before bottling. It’s a fresh wine with awesome acidity with lemony and herbaceous driven notes.

2015 Casa di Baal Fiano di Baal (Campania, Italy) | When you think of volcanos, Mt. Vesuvius is probably one of the first things that come to mind; it’s best known for its eruption in AD 79 that destroyed Pompeii. The area around it, in Campania, is also the most densely populated regions in the world with 3,000,000 people living nearby! The Salerno family, the parents and their five children are a part of that population. They focus on hardcore grape varietals that bring out the smokiness of the volcanic soil like Fiano and Aglianico. Their Fiano is aged in stainless steel for 9 months and has notes of apples, honey, and chamomile.

2017 Cantine Valenti ‘Poesia’ Rosato (Sicily, Italy) | Giovanni Valenti and his son Alessandro started Cantine Valenti in 2004. Their 50-year old vines are located at one of the highest elevations for growing vines on Mt. Etna. The Valenti family is adamant about exercising organic practices, using only the tiniest amounts of sulfites in their wine, and avoiding all chemicals and herbicides. The entire Valenti clan is a huge fan of the arts, and the wines are named after some of their favorite operas and authors. Poesia, ‘Poetry’, is a balanced and bright rosé – it dances on your palate with strawberry notes and mineral drive from the unrivalled Mt. Etna terrior. 

2012 Palmento Costanzo, Etna Rosso Nero di Sei (Sicily, Italy) | In 2011, Mimmo and Valeria Costanzo purchased and renovated Palmento Santo Spirito in Castiglione di Sicilia. This palmento (winery) was built over 100 years ago. Like many of his colleagues on Etna who have done similar work, Costanzo maintained the integrity of the existing building, while adding state of the art winemaking equipment and temperature control. The two principle grapes produced at Palmento Costanzo are Carricante and Nerello Mascalese. In Santo Spirito, you have portions of very rocky terrain, and volcanic rocks. This red blend is a deep, crunchy, warming wine full of notes of balsamic and harmonious black fruits. 

2012 Masseria Starnali Santo Sano (Campania, Italy) | Maria Teresa and her son, Luigi, are an agricultural duo that specializes in chestnuts and biodynamic wines right on the border of Roccamonfina National Park in Northern Campania. Their blend of Aglianico and Piedirosso spent 8-10 days on its skins in stainless steel before being aged for a year in French oak. It’s unmistakably a volcanic soil progeny with its smoky, spice, and earthy notes. It will blow you into the next hemisphere!   

2015 Suertes del Marques ‘La Solana’ (Canary Islands, Spain) | The Pico del Teide is the world’s 3rdlargest volcano! It’s covered all of the Valle de la Orotara, one of the oldest wine growing regions in the Canary Islands, at one point or another with lava or volcanic ash. Suertes del Marques was founded in 2006 by Jonatan Garcia Lima. This mineral driven wine hails from indigenous grape, Listan Negro, and comes from 100 year old vines that were grown at an elevation of 350-450 meters! The grapes were hand harvested, destemmed, and went through yeast fermentation in concrete; the wine was then aged in French oak barrels for 14 months. This is an elegant wine with notes of earthiness, gunpowder, and dried flowers.