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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 micro-climate, 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.
2018 92 "Excellent Value" Forbes
Field blend, co-fermented of Aragones (Tempranillo), Agronòmica, Castelão, Malvarsico, Merlot, Touriga Naçional, Saborinho and Syrah. Vineyards planted from 1989-2004. Tended in volcanic basalt at sea level, less than 50m from the Atlantic Ocean.
This is a very versatile pairing owing to its salinity and freshness. Punchier seafood dishes like seared tuna with olives and capers, as well as lighter meat dishes like beef tataki or carpaccio.
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. 15 days cold maceration. Spontaneous fermentation with wild yeast, 8 months aging in stainless steel, then 10 months in bottle prior to release.
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 (1100 mm) a year.
Intense ruby-purple. On the nose, fresh red fruit commingled with salty savory notes of the sea and stone. On the palate, fresh and salty, with crunch cranberry, sour cherry and under ripe raspberry. Finishes spicy, with a sanguine umami note.