Olga Verchenko is a wine professional living in Barcelona. She has been working in the wine business since 2012. At that time, she graduated from the Msc Wine Programme at Burgundy School of Business. Today she is a founder of ViniComm wine project: having a wine job title, she also shares her wine passion and knowledge on the blog @vinicomm and conducts wine tastings in Catalonia. One of the topics in the world of wine she is interested in is the Azores islands.
This summer, Olga had a pleasant opportunity to visit a true Atlantic gem – the Azores. This archipelago includes 9 islands that used to be ancient volcanoes. It is small wonder that a myriad of local wines was tasted, still exotic and rare for many wine fans. Olga shared the most fascinating stories from her trip on the blog and in some periodicals.
Undoubtedly, the local volcano terroir is the Land of white wines with the 3 main traditional varieties:
- Verdelho gives a crunchy acidity and contributes to the ageing potential of the blend.
- Arinto dos Açores is the most widespread on 4 islands where viticulture is practiced (São Miguel, Pico, Graciosa, Terceira) and is used for both light fresh and aged on the lees full-bodied wines.
- Terrantez do Pico is the hardest to grow grape variety planted only in Pico Island since the 15th century. Its origin and parents are still not clear. There are only 89 strains of Terrantez on the island and this unique breed is in danger of extinction. This is the corpulent body of the local wines.
Red wine lovers will not be disappointed either: 15 red varieties are officially permitted and cannot be left without attention. The interesting fact is that the experimental variety Isabella a Proibida by Antonio Maçanita – the succulent red made of the American hybrid – is forbidden in the rest of the European Union.
In addition, they say that volcano wines have special and recognizable notes. In Azorean wines, however, not just volcano terroir, but the Atlantic influence makes the difference.
The local Terrantez is the saltiest and the most resin expression of the terroir. The notes of some tropical flowers, hazelnuts, marzipan plus amazing crispness create the wine character. In Verdelho, the mineral notes remind Olga of basalt stone and iodine ocean breeze coming right from the glass. The palate varies depending on the style: fresher samples amaze with vibrant acidity, salty almond and pear, while aged in bottle wine develops notes of ripe stone fruits and biscuit. Arinto dos Açores is very versatile in styles and can surprise you with orange confiture, baked apples, lemon blossom and honey in combination with aromas of the wet stone, sometimes reminiscent of a high-level Riesling, yet with a salty touch.