Wine from volcanic soils

“Winemaking is like dancing around the volcano”

The Etna with its vinyards

Wine from volcanic soils

Nowadays we see more and more wines with a label that states: “wine from volcanic soils”. An interesting question for us as wine lovers is whether that matters in terms of taste. And if so, how can you really taste that the wine comes from a vineyard with volcanic soil? Last week I visited a lecture organized by Pallas Wines where winemakers were present who actually have their vines on volcanic soils. Wine companies Bodega Volcanes (Chile), Le Masciare (Italy), Franz Keller (Germany) and Tornatore (Etna, Sicily) gave a presentation. All these wineries have vineyards on volcanic soils. They should, therefore, be able to give answers to my questions.

Federica Campo from Tornatore lecturing

The influence of volcanic soils on wine

At this moment the influence of volcanic soils on wine is difficult to prove scientifically. Scientific research has not yet been carried out on a large scale in a laboratory. This is expensive and time-consuming because all other research-disrupting elements (such as location, treatment in the vineyard, the influence of the winemaker, etc.) must be excluded. The soil is only one part of the terroir and winemaking process as a whole. So there are no laboratory results yet that demonstrate that wines from volcanic soils have more minerals than wines from other soils. So, for the time being, we’ll have to deal with subjective data and rely on our taste.

What can we taste in wines from volcanic soils?

But if we don’t have scientific evidence, what can we taste in wines from volcanic soils? John Szabo who has just released his book “Volcanic Wines” summarizes it as: “Salt, Grit & Power”. Freely translated: A salty impression, salivating acids and powerful wines. With a salty impression, you should not think about taking a spoonful of salt, but rather the subtle feeling that you are tasting something salty in the background. The winemakers added during the lecture, in addition to the characteristics mentioned by John Szabo, that their wines are rather more tasty than fruity. And that is indeed true when we taste their wines. We also conclude at the tasting that all wines have a hint of smoke or flint in the scent. In short, if you taste or smell some of these characteristics in your wine, you have a good chance that the wine comes from volcanic soil. And the other way around: if you are a fan of taste profile given above, then it is a good choice to go for a wine of volcanic soil.

The chance you’ll find wines from volcanic soils

By the way, the chance is bigger than you think to find such a wine. If we are talking about wines from volcanic soil, then we should refer to soils from the beginning of the earth’s existence. The still-active volcanoes are clearly visible. But remember that, to name but a few counties and areas, Hungary, Italy (Campania), Alsace, Canary Islands, Germany (Baden, Moselle), Greece (Santorini), Chile, volcanoes have once been active there and their traces in the soil have left its footprint. And that is why we can now enjoy the delicious wines that are produced here.

Try such a volcanic wine and have fun tasting.

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