Why It Matters?
In the wine world, it doesn't get any geekier than discussions on geology and its role on wine. I happily partake from time to time, and have even begun to notice certain "tells" of soil types when I taste — a genuine sign that I am in too deep, perhaps. The drama inherent from these soils registers in the form of faintly smoky, sulfury aromas and flavors; lean and precise fruit; and a prickly texture. In these matters of smell and taste, volcanic wines suggest that grape variety matters less than the magic happening underground. In other words, a familiar grape such as Chardonnay will lose some of its identifiable traits in volcanic soil, and take on a whole new role.
It is important to note that wines from volcanic soils are not better, they're just very unique. And best of all, you do not need to be a practiced taster or wine expert to notice them. They can be quite obvious.
But we also like to call these wines out from a storytelling standpoint. Whether it is because the vineyards reside next to an active volcano, or the pH level of the ancient volcanic soil lends it a resistance to certain pests, volcanic wines always seem to have a compelling tale to tell. There is no question that tending these vines requires an extra set of management tools and savvy for winegrowers.
Since we focus on Italy quite a bit here on Opening a Bottle, we come across volcanic wines a great deal, but they're found all over the world. No matter the distance that separates them, their commonalities are a blast to explore.