Volcanic Wines - Mixed Case
Volcanic Wines - Mixed Case
A spectacular mixed case of 'volcanic' wines containing either 1 or 2 bottles of each of the following wines:
Trenzado, Suertes del Marques, Valle de la Orotava, Tenerife 2017 - £21.95
The 2012 vintage of Trenzado was the very first wine we bought when we set up Vin Cognito at the end of 2014. We took a punt on 120 bottles. Some might say it was a bold opening move for a new company, but we bought it because we loved it and we hoped we could communicate that enthusiasm to all the brave souls who had agreed to climb aboard our bandwagon. We have followed every vintage since then and they have all been great, but this vintage, the 2017, is something else altogether. It’s the wine that we suspected had always been waiting in the wings, the understudy-turned-diva, and now, with her voice fully warmed up, she is ready to sing.
What’s the fuss all about? Well, imagine how a great Meursault from someone like Coche Dury or Lucien Le Moine would taste if the vines were planted on the side of a volcano in the Atlantic Ocean, as these are. The aromas are simply mesmerising. So much so that I challenge you not to spend at least five minutes swirling it under your nose before even putting it to your lips. It has the ‘struck flint’ aromas of a reductive white Burgundy (à la Coche-Dury, Leflaive, Roulot, Le Moine etc), but there’s also a sense of the wild, untamed Atlantic and the brooding presence of Tenerife’s mighty volcano, El Teide, so when you put it all together, you get a thrilling, sea-sprayed shipwreck of grapefruits, gunpowder, lemons, pumice, oyster shells and honeysuckle. It shouldn’t work, but it really, really does. The matchstick aromas linger like wispy gunsmoke after a naval skirmish, but they give space for the other flavours to shine too, allowing for a wonderful combination of zesty citrus fruit, saline freshness and granitic minerality.
We make no apologies for loving this style of white wine, and acknowledge that it won’t please every palate, but if, like us, you crave exciting wines informed by their place of origin, then don’t hesitate. Oh, and don’t drink it all on day one, it’s even better on day two and three, becoming even grander (like a Batard-Montrachet made by pirates). It’s made almost entirely from Listan Blanco (95%), but with tiny amounts of other local varieties including Gual, Marmajuelo, Baboso Blanco, Albillo Criollo, Vijariego Blanco and Verdello 13.5% alc. Drink now-2024.
Arinto dos Açores, The Azores Wine Company, Azore Islands, Portugal 2015 - £28.50
Set your sat nav to 'The Beaten Path' and then do a U-Turn. The Azores are a group of volcanic islands that lie about 800 miles west of Lisbon in the Atlantic Ocean and this white wine is made by a young winemaker on a mission to reclaim Pico Island’s dry stone-walled vineyards (well worth checking out on Google Images if you have a moment). For hundreds of years, the volcanic rocks that are scattered across the island have been stacked in a web of corrals (currais) to protect the vines from the wind and sea-spray, and to help the grapes ripen quicker with a little night-time warmth. This here wine is made from Arinto, which is indigenous to the Azore Islands and not the same as the Arinto grape found on mainland Portugal (it’s actually a cross between Verdelho and Serceal). Everything about this wine is extreme (the price too, you might argue), so brace yourself for acidity, minerality, salinity and a great adventure. 13% alc. Drink 2018-2025.
Assyrtiko 'Voila', Lyrarakis, Crete, Greece 2018 - £12.95
Although Assyrtiko is more famously associated with the sparse, lava-strewn landscape of Santorini, where the wines take the concept of ‘minerality’ to the extreme, it also does well in the high-altitude vineyards on the eastern side of Crete. This little gem is grown in the ‘Voila' vineyard in gravel over limestone soils at 580m above sea level, an altitude which tempers the island’s warm climate (conferring warm days and the all-important cool nights) and gives just the right conditions for achieving the grape’s most aromatic expression. This is one of those lovely, crunchy white wines bursting with lemon, grapefruit and white-fleshed fruits, the acidity is just enough to make your gums shiver politely in anticipation, and there’s a lingering taste of the island – a dusty, chalky quality, as if you were driving up a rocky/gravel track through a lemon grove. It’s a deliciously zippy and distinctive white that can be enjoyed as an aperitif or with food (something simple like grilled fish with lemon and herbs would be ideal). 13.5% alc. Drink now-2021.
Etna Rosso Guardoilvento, Pietro Caciorgna, Sicily 2016 - £25.50
There's an integrity to this wine that risks attracting the worst sort of customer: the hipster. If we wanted our virtual shop to be populated by bearded men knitting, then we'd lure them in with low filament light bulbs, but we can't help the fact that this wine ticks the same boxes that bring all the authenticity-hunters to the yard. It's an astonishingly aromatic Nerello Mascalese sourced from pre-phylloxera vines on the slopes of Mount Etna aged for 6 months in French oak. The combination of the altitude (2,000 feet above sea level) and the rich, mineral soil, give the wine extraordinary aromatic lift, suggesting peach fuzz, crushed red cherries, sweet roses and wet stones and the palate is as light and fresh as the pale colour suggests it will be, but there's real fascination and depth in there too, as you might find in a ripe Nebbiolo or a richly-scented Pinot Noir. It's fashionably terroir-driven, proudly true to its origins, and, as such, is bang 'on-trend'. No wait, no it's not, it's really uncool! Hey you, in the ironic t-shirt, get out! 13.5% alc. Drink now-2022. Only 4,000 bottles produced.
Versante Nord Etna Rosso, Eduardo Torres Acosta, Sicily, Italy 2016 - £27.00
The volcano on which these grapes grow makes its presence felt in this wine with suggestions of pumice and cold embers that work so well when set against the bright cherry fruit that washes over it. It’s not a sulphurous, smoky Etna Rosso, but one that carries its sense of minerality in cool grey stone, which acts like a bedrock against which the red fruits rebound. The aromas are so subtle and gorgeous that you spend far too much time sniffing it, which runs the risk of making you look like a ponce, but not as much of a ponce as the person who just wrote “like a bedrock against which the red fruits rebound”, so you’re all good. 14% alc. Nerello Mascalese. Drink now-2026.
Envinate 'Benje', Tenerife, Spain 2017 - £24.50
Only a few bottles of this graceful beauty have made it to the UK and we put our hands up for as much as we could have. As much as we could have turned out to be 48 bottles, so it's not going to stretch very far, but this is one of the finest reds we have tasted from Tenerife (and, no, that's not like saying he was the best-looking guy in the burns unit). It's incredibly fine, with a real sense of the rocky, volcanic, Atlantic soil, but not in such a way that it smothers the fruit, which is bright and succulent. It's a blend of 98% Listan Prieto and 2% Tintilla from 70 to 120 year-old vines sitting at 1,100 metres altitude on the cliffs of northwestern Tenerife and it has a wonderful freshness and purity and, despite being light-bodied, a fascinating scope of flavours both fruity and mineral. It should appeal to anyone who loves Loire reds, cool climate Pinot Noir, Etna Rosso... that kind of thing. Pale and haunting and very evocative. 12.5% alc. Drink now-2020