Wine Club Dirt – June 2017
June Dirt 2017 – Volcanic Soil
The two wines in this month’s Club Dirt come from completely different regions. Piedmont in northern Italy and the Canary Islands of Spain. What links them, is a distinct minerality, present because they both come from volcanic soils. You can’t talk about volcanic soil without talking about minerality. They often show up to the party together (though you can certainly find minerality in wines from other soil types) but grapes grown in volcanic soil most certainly lend that mineral character to the wines. It’s not been proven that soil type affects the flavor of wine. However, you also can’t prove that a solid diet of cheese, wine, and bread is a great way to stay healthy and happy, but the French would surely disagree. Fortunately, you get to decide for yourself.
Colombera & Garella Bramaterra 2013- $36.99/btl
Cristiano Garella and Giacomo Colombera, along with Colombera’s father, Carlo, have been growing grapes in the Bramaterra appellation since the early 1990s. Bramaterra is located about 2 hours North-northeast of Barolo and Barbaresco, and sits right at the foot of the Alps. 300 million years ago, a volcano created the raw material for this appellation – soils are high-acid, reddish-brown porphyritic sand of volcanic origin. This is a Nebbiolo-dominant blend (70%) with bits of Croatina (20%) and Vespolina (10%) making up the rest – vines are between 15-50 years old. The wine is fermented in concrete tanks with native yeasts; aging is done in used barriques.
At just 12.5% alcohol this wine is incredibly approachable and fresh. At 350-400 meters, Bramaterra delivers quite a different style than Barolo and Barbaresco. These acidic soils produce wine with lower alcohol and give the wines a sanguine minerality. The structure seems to come more from minerality than from tannins. This wine has very pretty aromatics – sweet cherry blossom, candied red fruit (like milk chocolate covered cherries) and a delicate touch of cedar and a whiff of smoke. On the palate it’s quite bright and fresh with notes of red cherry, cocoa nib, dried strawberries, and orange skin. Moderate acidity and powdery tannin back up the fruit nicely. An excellent pairing with braised meats or game birds. Try it with Beef Braised in Red Wine or Duck with Cherries.
Tajinaste Vendimia Seleccionada 2012 – $49.99/btl
Tajinaste is run by Agustín García Farrais. The bodega is situated on the island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands. Tenerife has the world’s third largest volcano sitting right in the middle of it creating a diverse set of microclimates in a short distance. The Canary Island chain is located off the north coast of Africa (Morocco). The soils here are entirely volcanic which lends itself to their unique minerality as well as naturally creating low yields due to the high drainage of porous soils. The minerality is often smoky, flinty, saline, and other times it’s just like drinking liquid stones.
Made only in the best years, the Vendimia Seleccionada is 100% Listàn Negro from a single parcel of 100+ year-old vines aged in a mix of new and one year-old French oak. Only 1,000 bottles of this wine were produced. On the nose, this wine gives up notes of dried cherry, cranberry, orange peel, and iron. It’s dry and medium-bodied with notes of baked plum and a clay-like minerality the clings to your cheeks. It’s excellent with cheese and charcuterie. Try this Charcuterie Salad or Pâté de Campagne.