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Branco Vulcanico 2018
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The Portuguese archipelago of the Azores is home to a winemaking tradition that dates back to its colonization in the 15th century, wherein viticulture was introduced by Franciscan friars. This group of islands is home to a singular terroir and microclimate, one that draws close comparison to the island of Santorini. Like Santorini, the Azores are volcanic islands comprised entirely of black basalt. Pico, the main wine producing island where these vineyards are located, has such poor soil that the vineyard needs to be supplemented with soil from neighboring islands to support vine growth, and even with that, the yields are a fraction of what they are in the rest of the DOC. Additionally, the vineyards are grown in tiny plots (2-6 bush trained vines per square) protected on all sides by small walls called “currais” to ward off the strong winds that blow in from the nearby beaches. Antonio Maçanita, whose heritage is directly tied to the Azores, has been a force of rejuvenation and rediscovery in these islands. Thanks to his efforts, this UNESCO heritage site is being re-established as a prestige wine-growing region in Europe. With the Vulcanico line of wines, Antonio seeks to emphasize the soil and terroir of the Azores over the varietals themselves. The Branco, Tinto and Rosé are all blends of indigenous varieties, made with minimal intervention to fully evoke the salt, wind and volcanic character of this wind-swept landscape.
WHAT MAKES THIS WINE UNIQUE?
This is a micro-production wine from the volcanic Azores islands in the North Atlantic Ocean. It is grown in volcanic basalt at sea level, less than 50m from the Atlantic. This terroir and the blend of varieties imbue this wine with incredible minerality and purity, as well as unmistakable salinity.
50% Arinto dos Açores, 50% Verdelho. Vineyards planted from 2004-2015. Tended in volcanic basalt at sea level, less than 50m from the Atlantic Ocean.
This is a wine that performs beautifully with all sorts of seafood, owing to its salinity and minerality. Shellfish and freshly prepared fish dishes are brilliant pairs.
VINIFICATION AND AGEING:
Sustainably farmed vineyards planted to volcanic basalt. Hand harvested to 40kg baskets, heavy triage, then racked to small stainless steel tanks for fermentation. Conventional fermentation with cultivated yeasts, 8 months aging in stainless steel with extended lees contact.
LOCATION, SOIL, CLIMATE:
Pico, in the Azores, is about 1000 miles off the coast of Portugal. It is dominated by the volcano Ponto do Pico, Portugal’s highest mountain. The soil is entirely black volcanic basalt, which puts enormous stress on the vines, lowering yields. Temperature averages 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees C), with rainfall averaging 43 inches (1100mm) a year.
Light straw with notes of green around the rim. On the nose, tropical but intensely maritime, with pineapple and passion fruit interwoven with seaweed, wet stone and sea spray. Salty and intensely mineral driven on the palate, with a surprising depth of fruit that is balanced by the minerality and focused acidity through the middle.