Summer Wine Club Terroir Series: Volcanic Wines

Winelandia’s wine club is constantly evolving as we delve deeper into the inner workings of wine. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about terroir and it’s influence on a wine’s flavors and aromas, and for the summer club I wanted to bring focus to the soil the wines are grown in.

I came up with the idea of creating a collection of wines from volcanic terroirs, as I’ve been inspired by these wines for some time. They are a departure from the style of wines I’ve brought to you in the past, which important for our growth as wine lovers. Wines grown on volcanic terroir are more about soil expression than fruit; they present profound minerality first while succulent fruit plays second fiddle.

Mt. Etna eruptingAbove: An erupting Mt. Etna. Yes, people really make wine here!

Volcanic terroirs challenge us to see wine through a different lens. While the examples in this collection may be made from different grapes and grown in different parts of the world, they all have something in common. You will find as you drink through them that you learn to identify their commonality – how volcanic terroir presents itself in the flavor and aroma of wine.

This collection has been by far the most difficult for me to source, as there are not many places that produce these wines. Volcanic vineyards tend to be on very steep slopes or in inhospitable climates, and because of that there just aren’t that many being made. I have examples for you from as close to home as the Sierra Foothills to as far away as the Canary Islands of Spain. Some of them are grown on active volcanoes like Mt. Etna while others are sourced from ancient and extinct volcanoes in Hungary.

canary islands vineyardAbove: Vineyards on the Canary Islands often look extra-terrestrial. The little stone walls built around each grape vine are designed to protect them from the strong winds.

An important thing to note about volcanic wines is that they can be a little shy when you first open them. If the wine seems tight or closed, give it a vigorous decanting. Many of these wines benefit from air and will show their more complex and sultry side if you give them a little time out of the bottle.

On to the fun part – the list. As always, full details about the wines will come in printed format with the delivery.

The Winelandia Wine Club is a great way to get introduced to an ever-evolving array of fantastic, natural, and affordable wines that you’ll be excited to open any day of the week. Each quarter we feature three different themed collections of six wines for every palate. If you prefer reds or whites, or if you like all sorts of wine, we have the club for you. For more information and our sign-up form, visit our Wine Club Signup Page.

MIXED CLUB
An alternating selection of 3 red, 2 white, and 1 rosé or sparkling wines.
$150 for all six plus tax & delivery.

Frank Cornelissen
2014 “Susucaru” Rosato
Mt. Etna, Sicily

Bodega Matías i Torres
2013 Listàn Blanco
Canary Islands, Spain

Fekete Béla
2011 Olaszrizling
Somló, Hungary

La Clarine Farm
2014 “Jambalaia” Rouge
Sierra Foothills, California

Comte Abbatucci
2014 “Frais Imperial” Rouge
Corsica, France

Cantina Giardino
2011 “Le Fole” Aglianico
Campania, Italy

ALL-RED CLUB
A collection of light, medium, and full-bodied reds for any occasion.
$150 for all six plus tax & delivery

La Clarine Farm
2014 “Jambalaia” Rouge
Sierra Foothills, California

Comte Abbatucci
2014 “Frais Imperial” Rouge
Corsica, France

Cantina Giardino
2011 “Le Fole” Aglianico
Campania, Italy

Bodega Matías i Torres
2013 Negramoll
Canary Islands, Spain

Don Michele
2009 “Moganazzi” Etna Rosso
Mt. Etna, Sicily

Agnanum
2013 “Pér ‘e Pallum” Piedirosso
Campania, Italy

ALL-WHITE CLUB
Fresh, terroir-driven whites (with a smattering of rosé and/or sparking wines) that pair with a wide variety of foods.
$150 for all six plus tax & delivery

Frank Cornelissen
2014 “Susucaru” Rosato
Mt. Etna, Sicily

Bodega Matías i Torres
2013 Listan Blanco
Canary Islands, Spain

Fekete Béla
2011 Olaszrizling
Somló, Hungary

Etnella
2013 “Kaos” Etna Bianco
Mt. Etna, Sicily

Agricola Menti
2013 “Roncaie sui lieviti“ Garganega
Veneto, Italy

Comte Abbatucci
2014 “Faustine” Blanc
Corsica, France

For detailed information on each of the wines, see below.

2014 Frank Cornelissen “Susucaru” Rosato
Type: Rosato Wine (Rosé)
Blend: Malvasia, Moscadella, Cattaratto, Nerello Mascalese
Region: Italy>Sicily>Mt. Etna
Vineyard: Organically farmed without chemicals – natural or organic. The fruit is sourced from several vineyards located on Mt. Etna – a stratovolcano located on the eastern coast of Sicily, and the tallest volcano on the European continent. Mt. Etna is one of the most active volcanoes in the world, and is in a near-constant state of activity.
Tasting Notes: A roller-coaster of a rosé that offers a kaleidoscope of flavors and aromas. Sultry, fruity, floral, herbal, mineral – it’s all in there. On the palate, it’s bursting with fresh berry flavors, chalky minerals, and fine-grained tannins that linger. Serve ice cold and enjoy with food to experience everything this wine has to offer.
Food Pairing: Polenta with fontina cheese and salami, beef carpaccio with arugula salad, bucatini with onions and sardines
Production Notes: Red and white grapes are crushed and co-fermented together for up to 45 days of skin contact. Bottled unfined and unfiltered with absolutely no sulfites added at any point in the process. A truly natural wine.
Winemaker: Frank Cornelissen
Bio: Originally from Belgium, Cornelissen fell in love with the wines of Mt. Etna during his career as a wine salesman. He set out to make wines he described as tasting like “liquid rocks”, and in 2001 he purchased a 3 acre plot of vines on Mt. Etna. Since then, he has become a household name in the natural wine community.

2013 Matías i Torres Listàn Blanco
Type: White Wine
Blend: 100% Listàn Blanco
Region: Spain>Canary Islands>La Palma
Vineyard: 100 year old ungrafted, dry-farmed vines planted in volcanic picon (gravelly ash) soil. La Palma is a volcanic ocean island, rising nearly 4 miles above the floor of the Atlantic ocean. The volcano is dormant, with it’s last recorded activity in 1971.
Tasting Notes: Saline, broad, and vibrant, with flavors of wild fennel, stonefruit, and meyer lemon, with ashy minerality on the finish. A very interesting and complex wine. Serve well-chilled and enjoy with food.
Food Pairing: Fried goat cheese with herbs, grilled sardines with olive oil and garlic, squid a la plancha
Production Notes: Fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel with a few days of skin contact. Aged on the lees for 7 months. Bottled with minimal sulfites.
Winemaker: Victoria Torres
Bio: Torres and her father farm the family’s 2 hectares of vineyards in the village of Fuencaliente, where her family has been farming grapes for 5 generations. They bottled their first vintage together in 1999; prior to that they had been making wine mostly for their own consumption and to sell to restaurants.

2011 Fekete Béla Olaszrizling
Type: White Wine
Blend: 100% Olaszrizling
Region: Hungary>Somló
Vineyard: Dry-farmed vines planted in basalt and ancient seabed soil with southern exposure. The region of Somló is an ancient underwater volcano that has long been extinct. Somló has been known for hundreds of years to produce top-quality wines from some of the steepest and most densely planted vineyards in Hungary.
Tasting Notes: Smoky and mineral-driven, full-bodied and intense, with loads of texture, acid, and flavor. After a few minutes of decanting, notes of honey, fennel, and saline begin to emerge. This is not a fruity wine – instead, it exudes volcanic terroir. Serve decanted, not too cold, and with food for optimal enjoyment.
Food Pairing: Smoked fish, goulash, stuffed peppers, roasted chicken with bread salad
Production Notes: Hand-harvested fruit is fermented with indigenous yeasts in 1200 liter Hungarian oak casks. Aged without battonage for 2 years before bottling.
Winemaker: Fekete Béla
Bio: Fekete Béla, also known as “The Grand Old Man of Somló”, is a 93 year old winemaker and farmer who made wines on the extinct volcano of Somló in Hungary. He farmed his 4 hectares of vineyards himself until his wife insisted on his retirement. The last bottling being produced by Fekete is the 2013 vintage.

2014 La Clarine Farm “Jambalaia” Rouge
Type: Red Wine
Blend: 48% Mourvèdre, 37% Grenache, 14% Marsanne and 1% Fiano & Arneis
Region: United States>California>Sierra Foothills
Vineyard: Sustainably farmed vines planted in deep volcanic loam near the town of Camino. About 10 million years ago, the Lake Tahoe area was an active volcano, and as a result many of the wine-growing regions in the area feature various types of volcanic soils.
Tasting Notes: Fresh and juicy with notes of ripe red tropical fruit, pink flowers, and minerals. Light on it’s feet while still retaining plenty of grippy tannins and structure, it’s best served lightly chilled and enjoyed with food. The wine will continue to improve with age, so it can be cellared and enjoyed for the next few years.
Food Pairing: Dry-rubbed BBQ ribs, grilled sausages, charcuterie plates
Production Notes: Hand-harvested grapes are foot-stomped and fermented whole-cluster with ambient yeasts in open-top containers with no added sulfites. After 5-7 days of maceration, the grapes are pressed and left to finish fermenting in tanks. Bottled unfined and unfiltered with minimal sulfites. 377 cases made.
Winemaker: Hank Beckmeyer
Bio: La Clarine Farm is a principled stand out in California winemaking. A follower of Masanobu Fukuoka’s “Do Nothing Farming” methods, Beckmeyer has created a holistic vineyard and winery experience, trying to leave the grapes alone to, in a sense, make the wine themselves. Beckmeyer has been quietly making wines in the Sierras since 2001.

2014 Comte Abbatucci “Frais Imperial” Rouge
Type: Red Wine
Blend: 100% Sciaccarellu
Region: France>Corsica>Ajaccio
Vineyard: Certified Biodynamic 20 year old vines planted in granitic soils. The island of Corsica was once an volcano during the Triassic period, now ancient and extinct. The island itself was created 60 million years ago while the continent of Africa was colliding with Europe – the same geological event that created the Alps.
Tasting Notes: Light, floral, and spicy, with delicate acidity and super-fine tannins. A wonderful summertime red that pairs well with Mediterranean fare.
Food Pairing: Wild boar charcuterie, stuffed pasta with ricotta and tomato sauce, roasted trout with garlic and olive oil.
Production Notes: Hand-picked grapes are gently de-stemmed and fermented with indigenous yeasts. Lightly punched-down with a short maceration period, the finished wine is aged in stainless steel and concrete.
Winemaker: Jean-Charles Abbatucci
Bio: A direct descendant of a celebrated Corsican general in the French revolution of the same name, Jean-Charles Abbatucci is a strict follower of Biodynamic farming practices. He has been known to play traditional Corsican songs over loudspeakers on his tractor to his vines and wines aging in the winery. Abbatucci believes it’s all part of the terroir.

2011 Cantina Giardino “Le Fole” Aglianico
Type: Red Wine
Blend: 100% Aglianico
Region: Italy>Campania
Vineyard: Organically farmed 75 year old vines planted in flysh soils of volcanic origin. Campania’s soils are volcanic due to the chain of active, dormant, and extinct volcanoes surrounding the area called the Campanian Volcanic Arc. It includes Mt. Vesuvius (which last erupted in 1944) and Campi Flegrei, a huge ancient caldera.
Tasting Notes: Notes of ripe cranberry and red currants are framed by firm tannins and fresh acidity. On the palate, more ripe red fruits come through with graphite minerality.
Food Pairing: Roasted wild pheasant, braised rabbit with herbs and tomatoes, wild boar sausage
Production Notes: Hand-harvested and fermented with indigenous yeasts. Pressed by hand using a torchio (basket press). Aged 1 year in large-format chestnut botti and bottled unfined and unfiltered with no added sulfites.
Winemaker: Antonio di Gruttola
Bio: Cantina Giardino is a joint venture started by six friends with the intent of preserving old plantings of native grape varieties vines throughout Campania. Their winery is located in the village of Irpinia, and only natural processes are used in the production of their wines.

2013 Etnella “Kaos” Etna Bianco
Type: White Wine
Blend: 60% Carricante 30% Catarratto 10% various indigenous white varieties
Region: Italy>Sicily>Mt. Etna
Vineyard: Organically farmed 20-40 year old bush trained vines planted in volcanic soil at 2400’ elevation on the Southeastern slope of Mt. Etna – a stratovolcano located on the eastern coast of Sicily, and the tallest volcano on the European continent. Mt. Etna is one of the most active volcanoes in the world, and is in a near-constant state of activity.
Tasting Notes: On the initial pour, Kaos is smoky, saline, and intense. After decanting for a little while it opens up it’s softer side, offering notes of delicate white flowers, ripe stone fruit, and persistent minerality.
Food Pairing: Seared prawns with garlic butter and fresh corn over pasta, fish poached with olive oil and aromatics, grilled sardines with garlic and olive oil
Production Notes: Hand-harvested grapes are crushed and soaked on the skins 6 hours. Fermented with indigenous yeasts and aged 6 months in stainless steel. Bottled unfined and unfiltered with minimal sulfites.
Winemakers: Davide Bentivegna
Bio: Originally from the hills outside of Catania, Bentivegna spent half of his life abroad. He first explored agricultural passion while working for Siemens, and eventually settled on Mt. Etna in 2010 when he began to make wine. He is part of a 4-member team who strives to make the most natural and terroir-driven wines possible.

2013 Agricola Menti “Roncaie sui lieviti“ Garganega
Type: White Wine, Sparkling
Blend: 100% Garganega
Region: Italy>Veneto>Gambellara
Vineyard: Organic and practicing Biodynamic. 30 year old vines planted in volcanic basalt alluvial soil. Veneto gained its volcanic soils during several geological events ranging between the Paleocene and Oligocene periods, 30-60 million years ago. The lavas erupted from the southernmost border of the Trento Platform, which now makes up the Veneto volcanic province.
Tasting Notes: Fresh & fizzy, with notes of yellow fruit and yeasty brioche framed by delicate acidity and smoky minerality. This wine is un-disgorged, which means there’s some sediment in the bottle. This is natural, adding texture and richness to the wine.
Food Pairing: Fresh sheep’s milk cheeses, caprese salad, arugula salad with prosciutto and almonds, hand-pulled chinese noodles with spicy peanut sauce
Production Notes: Hand-harvested and fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel vats. Bottled with a little unfermented juice from Albina grapes, kicking off another fermentation in the bottle, and adding a natural effervescence to the wine. Un-disgorged with no added sulfites.
Winemaker: Giovanni Menti
Bio: Menti Giovanni was started in the 19th century in the village of Gambellara by Menti’s grandfather. Along with his son Stefano, Menti farms the family’s 7.5 hectares of garganega and durella vines utilizing only organic and biodynamic farming practices.

2014 Comte Abbatucci “Faustine” Blanc
Type: White Wine
Blend: 100% Vermentinu
Region: France>Corsica>Ajaccio
Vineyard: Biodynamically farmed old vines planted in ancient granitic soil. The island of Corsica was once an volcano, many millions of years ago during the Triassic period, now ancient and extinct. The island itself was created 60 million years ago while the continent of Africa was colliding with Europe – the same geological event that created the Alps.
Tasting Notes: Fresh and delicate, with notes of Corsican wildflowers, ripe citrus, and saline minerals. Silky and creamy with a long mineral finish.
Food Pairing: Sheep’s milk ricotta with fresh mint on crostini, fasgioli beans with tomatoes and herbs, cannelloni filled with cheese and greens
Production Notes: Hand-harvested fruit is quickly cold-soaked and slowly fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel. Bottled with minimal additions.
Winemaker: Jean-Charles Abbatucci
Bio: A direct descendant of a celebrated Corsican general in the French revolution of the same name, Jean-Charles Abbatucci is a strict follower of Biodynamic farming practices. He has been known to play traditional Corsican songs over loudspeakers on his tractor to his vines and wines aging in the winery. Abbatucci believes it’s all part of the terroir.

2013 Matías i Torres Negramoll
Type: Red Wine
Blend: 100% Negramoll
Region: Spain>Canary Islands>La Palma
Vineyard: Organically farmed grapes from several different vineyards grown in gravelly ash soil. La Palma is a volcanic ocean island, rising nearly 4 miles above the floor of the Atlantic ocean. The volcano is dormant, with it’s last recorded activity in 1971.
Tasting Notes: Medium-bodied and juicy with fine-grained tannins. Aromas of cedar, dried herbs, and smoke are complemented by flavors of pomegranate, spice, and saline minerals.
Food Pairing: Stewed rabbit marinated with coriander, charcuterie plate with sliced sausage and olives, grilled ribeye with black pepper
Production Notes: Hand-harvested grapes are fermented whole-cluster with indigenous yeasts for 6 days. Aged for 5 months in large-format American oak barrels.
Winemaker: Victoria Torres
Bio: Torres and her father farm the family’s 2 hectares of vineyards in the village of Fuencaliente, where her family has been farming grapes for 5 generations. They bottled their first vintage together in 1999; prior to that they had been making wine mostly for their own consumption and to sell to restaurants.

2009 Don Michele “Moganazzi” Etna Rosso
Type: Red Wine
Blend: 95% Nerello Mascalese, 5% Nerello Cappuccio
Region: Italy>Sicily>Mt. Etna
Vineyard: Organically farmed 70-80 year old vines planted at 2100’ elevation in soil composed of basalt, rich in silica and minerals. All fruit sourced from a single vineyard called Moganazzi on the slopes of Sicily’s volcano. Mt. Etna is an active stratovolcano located on the eastern side of Sicily, and is the tallest volcano on the European continent.
Tasting Notes: Medium-bodied, structured, and intense, with notes of rhubarb, volcanic earth, dried herbs, and smoky minerals.
Food Pairing: Roasted wild game with wild mushrooms, pasta with tomato-based sauce, grilled flatbread with pancetta and woodsy herbs
Production Notes: Hand-harvested fruit fermented with indigenous yeasts. Bottled with minimal sulfites and additions.
Winemaker: Marco de Grazia
Bio: Originally produced by Don Michele, the last vintage of Don Michele Etna Rosso was made by Marco de Grazia and his team at Terre Nere. After Don Michele’s death, the famous Moganazzi cru from which the wine was made was sold to Terre Nere and now goes into their own wines.

2013 Agnanum “Pér ‘e Pallum” Piedirosso
Type:
Red Wine
Blend: 100% Piedirosso
Region: Italy>Campania>Campi Flegrei
Vineyard: Organically farmed 60-200 year old vines trained in the Pergola system, planted in volcanic ash and sand with basalt subsoil. Agnanum’s vineyards are located the crater of Agnano, which is part of the Campanian Volcanic Arc.
Tasting Notes: Medium bodied, perfumed, precise, and pure, with aromas of smoke and bramble. On the palate, flavors of crunchy red and black fruits come through, with ripe tannins and a long finish.
Food Pairing: Roasted quail stuffed with sausage, bucatini pasta with tomatoes and olives, grilled pork
Production Notes: Hand-harvested and fermented with native yeasts. Minimal sulfites are added during production. Aged in stainless steel and bottled without sulfites. 900 bottles produced.
Winemaker: Raffaele Moccia
Bio: Built by Raffaele’s father in 1960, Agnanum’s focus in on minimal-intervention wines made by hand from low-yielding vines in Campi Flegrei. They grow mostly Falanghina and Piedirosso, seeking to craft high-quality, food-friendly wines that showcase the volcanic terroir.