In all the natural world, there are few phenomena more singularly destructive and awe-inducing than volcanic eruptions. From the dawn of human civilization we have stared at the brooding tops of volcanoes with a mixture of terror and reverence, and with good reason--eruptions destroy homes, end lives, can even wipe out entire cities and civilizations, and make amazing wines.
...uh. That last one doesn't quite fit...
And yet...it's true! Volcanic rock-- basalt, granite, even limestone-- is a unique growing medium, the porosity of which tends to make it both nutrient-dense and liquid-retentive-- i.e. remarkably good at absorbing the minerals and water that makes vines go. The topsoil tends to be rather poor, though, so grape vines have an advantage: the more you 'stress' a vine, the deeper its roots are driven into the soil, and the more of that deeply-held nutrient and water stash the vines reach. The result is vines that yield grapes which are ripe and rich, with plentiful and unique aromas and flavors-- gunsmoke and white petals from flint, chert, and limestone like the soils of Sancerre; black cherry, black raspberry, and charred wood from the basaltic soils of Etna and Basilicata; and blood, lavender, and peppercorns from the granitic soils of the northern Rhone.
So next time you wonder why people settled on Santorini, near Vesuvius, or on the slopes of Mt Etna, to this day the most dangerously active volcano in Europe--look to the vines. You might be surprised by what thrives in the unlikeliest of places.
If this intrigues you - come out and grab a bottle of the good stuff from our shelves!
Benanti, Etna Bianco (Carricante)
Janare, Luccero (Aglianico)
Grifalco, Gricos (Agilanico)
Valdibella Perricone "Acamante" (Perricone)