Under the Volcanoes Lie Some Wondrous Wines
By Abby Cifarelli
Volcanos are not only responsible for the creation of islands and land masses, but also for a range of wines — from light and delicate to deep and powerful — that grow in the unique soil around them.
The Cusumano Alta Mora Etna Rosso 2017 hails from Sicily. Mt. Etna is the world’s most active volcano with a 10,922-foot peak located on the northeastern side of the island, providing a dramatic backdrop for the vines that grow in the Etna DOC. Vines planted at the base of the mountain tend to produce wines with a more powerful and tannic flavor profile; whereas grapes that grow on vines at a higher elevation have a higher acidity because of the cooler climate. Alta Mora is 100% Nerello Mascalese, an ancient red grape varietal, native to Sicily that is only grown there to this day. It often has a light to medium body and similar flavor to a Pinot Noir.
As you tilt your glass of the Consumano, you’ll notice a bright red color with garnet edges. As you swirl, aromas of strawberry, dark cherries, black pepper, and volcanic rock come through. Take a sip and see how it sits on your palate. You will notice flavors of dark cherry, dried rose petals, and tobacco. It has medium acidity, and the volcanic soil adds a layer of depth and character to the palate. Nerello Mascalese pairs well with Sicilian and Mediterranean cuisine, dishes filled with tomatoes and eggplant. This soft Alta Mora is well suited to lighter proteins and fish as well. If you are grazing on a charcuterie board, make sure you reach for the mozzarella or gruyere cheese when enjoying this wine.
Our second wine, the Obsidian Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon 2017, brings us home to the United States, where there are over 150 volcanoes in our midst and many vineyards that have volcanic soil characteristics. This wine is grown overlooking a dormant volcano just north of Napa Valley. The Red Hills soils have large chunks of obsidian rock that sit atop of the surface. Although the volcano is dormant, the soil properties in this unique location show what once was and serve as the perfect place to grow powerful Cabernet Sauvignon.
As you tilt your glass of the Obsidian Ridge, you’ll see a striking ruby red color. Give it a swirl, and aromas of blueberries, black pepper, and dark chocolate jump out of the glass. Take your first sip; flavors of dark fruits, blackberries, violets, and minerals are present. The palate is ripe, bold, and refined with the structure of silky tannins. Cabernet Sauvignon is a thick-skinned grape varietal that often translates into a wine that is rich in flavor. This makes it a perfect match with grilled steak and lamb. If you’re pairing the wine with cheese, make sure you reach for the Gouda or Comté.
If wine truly reflects its surroundings, volcanic wines are some of the most expressive and dynamic wines you’ll find on the shelf.
<You can find the Alta Mora at Varmax in Port Chester and The Obsidian Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon at G. Griffin Wine & Spirits in Rye