”One of the most demanding and at the same time fascinating white wines I’ve ever had.”
Forced to summarize the 2011 Muros de Magma from Terceira in one sentence, it would probably sound something like this. Drinking the wine also brings back painful memories of the need to backup the laptop. Losing two weeks of great photos from an Azores visit was a hard way to learn the lesson.
When I’ve met with Anselmo Mendes, one of Portugal’s greatest winemakers, he’s always talked about the Terceira project with great passion. Together with Diogo Lopes he’s one of the oenologists consulted by Adega Cooperativa dos Biscoitos CRL to produce this extraordinary wine from one of the nine islands that constitutes the autonomous region of the Azores. A third person is involved as well, the agronomist Nuno Costa takes care of the curraletas.
Muros de Magma is a pure Verdelho grown in curraletas on the island of Terceira. A curraleta is a system of black lava rocks piled to create an enclosure. They’re twined together forming one big box with all these little windows filled with six to ten vines each. All to protect them from the strong winds. The recovery of the curraletas and the Verdelho vines has been supported by regional authorities.
2011 Muros de Magma Verdelho
A gift from Anselmo & Fernanda Mendes. Roughly 2,000 bottles made of this wine which ferments in used oak casks. What strikes you first is the color which is almost reminiscent of an orange wine. Its golden appearance with a slight orange glimmering is nothing but beautiful and kind of starts the trip you’re about to take.
Sometimes knowing a wine comes from a volcanic soil makes us write associations which should confirm this knowledge of ours. True or not, I’m not sure that volcanic soil has a special smokiness. However, I’ve never had a wine which stood out so much on the bouquet as the Muros de Magma Verdelho. It’s completely oozing of wet rocks leaning towards scorched earth scents. Add a dash of oak to that, very gentle, yellow fruits, some herbal honey, a vegetative character and salty green almonds. It’s not elegant but it’s kind of halfway there.
On the palate its zingy acidity is evident but it stays in balance with the rest of the components. Surprisingly ripe fruit feel and the first instant sip gives you a salty feel. Lime zest, almost overripe red apples, a dash of vanilla and a distinct modeling clay note follows. Fine concentration and a long finale. Approachable today but will keep and evolve although I wouldn’t challenge it. You see, the fruit keeps the wine in contact with my references and I’m not sure I’m there yet, to defy those.
Whoa, what an experience! I need to visit the Azores again. If not for wine reasons then just to show I’ve learned the need of backups.
The Muros de Magma Verdelho costs around 20 euros. Use wine-searcher to locate the wine.