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Victoria Moore: appreciating wines made on volcanic soil

Pico, Azores, Portugal
Author John Szabo has pinned down the elusive ‘X-factor’ uniting wines made on volcanic soil...

Pico is an island in the Azores that is just 300,000 years old. It was created by a series of volcano cones on the floor of the Atlantic to the west of Portugal, the largest of which, Mount Pico, towers 7,713ft above sea level, with a crater 546yds across. Mount Pico is a colossus; when it erupted from its flanks in 1718 the lava flow reached both coasts. The land here is tough to cultivate.

“In places it’s too young for soil to have formed,” says Nik Darlington of Red Squirrel wines. And yet, in this harsh territory, grapes are grown. Darlington imports a Pico wine called Tinto Vulcânico, made from a mixture of eight red grapes including castelão, merlot and touriga nacional.

It’s hard to describe the taste but it is underlaid by an intriguing, savoury sensation, almost as if the volcano is trying to make its presence felt.

Mount Etna Credit: Marco Ossino/Fotolia

There is currently a huge interest in volcanic wines. In Italy, one...

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