Soave Preview Part II: Minerality and Volcanic Wines

During the Soave Preview, journalists and wine experts from around the world gathered to try the latest vintage of Soave and debated different issues. This year two of the main topics were volcanic wines and the concept of minerality, discussed by a panel led by international wine experts such as winemaker Salvo Foti, journalist Alessandro Brizi and Master Sommelier John Szabo.


It is clear that volcanic wines and minerality are now two recurring trends in the wine industry, so some companies are trying to find new ways to express minerality in the glass. In this regard, chemistry and technology could help to give mineral sensations. However, it all starts in the vineyards and they cannot be merely done in a lab with any grape.

The volcanic wines tasted during the panel offered exactly the feelings expressed by Salvo Foti. For example, in a white wine from Canary Islands, the Listan Blanco of Bodega Suertes Del Marques, one could find some of the highest expressions of minerality.


Panayiota Kalogeropoulou (export sales and hospitality director of Sigalas winery in Santorini) said that volcanic wines share ‘energy’. Actually, this is a recurring theme on the Internet. Winemakers, it appears, are also very energetic and excited about making wines on a volcano.

Popocatepetl, Mexico. Photo courtesy of Consorzio Tutela Vini Soave.

During the event, it has been often pointed out that the term minerality is often misused to describe wines that are not particularly good nor with particular characteristics. However, the definition that I like most about mineral wines is the one offered by Etna’s winemaker Salvo Foti, who notes that minerality is the feeling obtained when acidity and sapidity get together. Try a small slice of green lemon and then put some salt in the mouth. That’s a clear feeling of minerality. It is a pleasant sensation that is long lasting, not too sweet nor acidic.

Salvo Foti introduced another interesting point: “Before minerality comes humanity“. Indeed, the human element is fundamental to consider when analyzing the quality of a wine, without forgetting that wine is a man-made product and also a cultural one. Szabo, instead, said there are some scientific elements related to minerality and that it is hard to find studies on the topic, especially because they are expensive and hard to conduct.

Volcano with lava flowing. Photo courtesy of Consorzio Tutela Vini Soave

In conclusion, mineral wines exist and play an important role in the world of oenology. Some of the best are definitely made in volcanic soil. Now it’s time to use a common vocabulary for this often misunderstood word. I would suggest starting from Salvo Foti’s mentioned simple and clear definition.


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