It fascinates me that in one glass of wine I can be transported to ancient tropical oceans, and in another, an eruption of molten lava that took place millions of years ago -- and yet not move from my armchair! It is similar to watching Sir David Attenborough uncover the fascinating natural history of our planet on TV. I think this ability to connect us instantly to a different place or time, is one of the most exciting things about wine.
This week's wines illustrate this so well.
Domaine Hervé Azo Petit Chablis 2019 ($24) This Chardonnay from our friend Herve Azo is made with grapes from the hilltops around the famous Chablis wine region of Burgundy -- an area once covered in warm Jurassic seas. Petit or ‘little’ is used to denote the distinct terroir of these hilltops, which are overlaid by hard Portlandian limestone rather than the soft, fossil-rich limestone of Chablis. Petit Chablis vines have to fight to send their roots into the fractures, which often leads to crisper, more linear wines.
This is a refreshing summer white with fresh citrus, subtle florals and a salty minerality. It is the perfect wine to drink alongside a fresh salad topped with cheese and fruit, like baked goat cheese, apples and fennel.
Cooking tip: Use half fresh lemon juice and half champagne vinegar with some good olive oil and a small spoon of Dijon mustard to make a zesty dressing.
On the other side of the geological spectrum, our red wine this week comes from Basilicata in Southern Italy -- specifically, from the DOC region of Mount Volture, named after the region’s ancient volcano.
D’Angelo Caselle Aglianico Riserva DOC 2012 ($42) The vineyards sit at an altitude of 1500ft on the sides of the extinct (at least we hope) volcano. When you taste the wine, the raw minerology that has been spewn out from deep within the mantle erupts in your mouth. This wine is dry and has a deep earthy character surrounded by pomegranate and mulberries and hints of leather.
This is a serious food wine and can stand up to rich, spicy flavors. We enjoyed it this weekend with a piperade (braised peppers, onions and tomatoes) with duck confit, spicy lamb sausage and two poached duck eggs. It was divine.