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Grapes on the volcano
Volcanic wines have a magical image. The brutal forces of what once happened under the vines work through. Minerality gives tension to the wine. Sometimes the volcanic origin is easy to see. An almost otherworldly place is the island of Fogo off the west coast of Africa. Here, wine grapes are grown on black ash fields on the flanks of the volcano. In the arid and rock-laden volcanic soil, it is a titanic task to cultivate the soil and plant the vines, let alone irrigate. But soil full of minerals, 365 days of sunshine capped by mild, Atlantic sea breezes do combine to form a perfect terroir for certain grape varieties. Wine region La Geria in the Canary Islands also stands out. The wines from the soil of petrified lava and ash are savoury with earthy, mineral aromas and nice acidity. Or take the Golan Heights Winery in Israel, with vineyards on a volcanic field.
More drinks talk from issue 79:
Tuff in France
Also, if the composition of the soil where the vines are located contains less volcanic material, this can affect the wine. In France, take Moulin-à-Vent, where the vineyards are located on the volcanic slopes of the Massif Central. 'Pinot noir doesn't work here at all,' says Cyril Chirouze of Château des Jacques (importer: Kwast Wijnkopers), 'whereas gamay performs excellently on this very soil with volcanic rock.
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