You're probably wondering what a title like "Thar She Blows" has ANYTHING do to with wine.
With all due respect to Melville and Moby Dick, absolutely nothing. No reference to whales in general or the people who have, for the most part (whalers), disappeared from existence.
So what, pray tell, does it have to do with wines? (I know this is where I usually say "let me tell you" but I'm not).
This week I have a twofer. Two Wines of the Week. Coincidentally, or maybe not, they both come from Italy (no association yet), but they both come from areas where the vineyards are both close to (here it comes) Volcanos! (Get the "Thar She Blows" reference?)
One from the island of Sicily and Mt. Etna and the other is near Mt. Vesuvius near the city of Naples. So as not to get into trouble (although that sometimes is my middle name) I am not making light of the potential devastation these active monsters can cause. In fact, as I sit here writing this post, there was an eruption in the Philippines from Mount Mayon just in the last day or so and one in Japan.
No, why I decided to highlight these two wines is because I came across them both at the same time and my brilliant mind said: "Let's do a post about wines from volcanic soils."
Another aspect that was interesting was the indigenous grapes both use in the making of their wine. Varietals not commonly seen when you are out and about. So let's get started:
The first wine I tried was the wine from Sicily. Now Sicilian wines aren't new and, in fact, their most famous grape, Nero d'Avola, has a pretty good following and produces some excellent wines. From Tenuta di Fessina and the 2015 vintage comes Erse, named after the Greek goddess of dew as a fitting tribute to the time of day when this dew-kissed vineyard is the most picturesque. Erse is made from a blend of Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio grown in the ancient volcanic soils on the hillsides of Mount Etna, the highest active volcano in Europe. The grapes are fermented and aged in stainless steel in order to deliver all the undiluted character and freshness of this unique terroir. I knew from the beginning this was going to be an interesting wine. Garnering 93 Points from Vinous Media and 88 from Wine Advocate, the variance led me to the belief that this is probably a "like it" or "hate it" kind of wine. Okay, hate might be a little strong, maybe just "don't like.
Now I love Italian wines and am familiar with their more rustic and drier qualities. This wine was just that. While the fruit was there, I felt that it was, for me, just a bit too rustic. A lighter wine that I would have guessed to be a tad fruitier given no oak treatment of the wine. That said, it was a wine earmarked for food and for those who like that more rustic quality. My score would be closer to the 88. (Click here for tech sheet)
The second wine was the Mastroberardino Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio Rosso 2016. I swear I didn't make that up. The name of this wine is rooted in a legend. According to the story, God cried when he found a corner of Heaven stolen by Lucifer and where his tears fell, there grew the grapes that make Lacryma Christi, translated as "tears of Christ." Made from 100% Piedirosso grapes grown in volcanic soil near Mount Vesuvius and fermented in stainless steel, this is a unique red wine that is youthful, but substantial. Like the first, a lighter style of wine. Although I found this wine to possess a slightly more fruit driven quality as compared to the Erse. That gave it an edge in my book. While not rated, I could see this wine in the 90+ scoring range. (Click here for tech sheet)
The wines should be available. The Erse in the mid $20 range and the Mastroberardino around $20. I should mention that I saw the Erse somewhere priced online at $35. Not sure, but I think that may be a misprint, but I didn't check it out.
I guess for my next wine, I'm going to have to come up with another title torn from the pages of the classic novels. Or maybe not! I think I'll concentrate on just finding great wines.