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24 February 2006

Minerality II: Mountain Spring Wine

Roeroarneis_1Recently, we discussed minerality in wine.  To whit, I mentioned that I normally assign wine with minerality into one of two categories: 'mineral water wine' or 'mountain spring wine.'  Can Feixes, a Spanish white wine from northern Spain, fell into the mineral water category.  It is bracing, in-your-face zesty and does a mighty fine Perrier impression.

On the other hand, wine in the 'mountain spring' category tends to hide its minerality in the background.  One wine that exemplifies the softer face of minerality is Italy's own Roero Arneis.  This wine hails from the Piedmont, in an area southeast of Torino.  It's made from the Arneis grape, which has been around since the 1400's.  Yet for Roero-lovers, minerality may not be the first adjective to spring from the lips.  Bruno Giacosa's Roero Arneis (2001, $28 - imported by Wine Bow) is a bright white-gold wine, slightly viscous in appearance, with scents of citrus peel, clove, nutmeg and green apple.  Underneath it all, lies something that I can only describe as, "stones around a mountain spring."  This is minerality, albeit of the exceedingly subtle variety.

Roero's mountain minerality takes a leading role in the mouth, along with pear and ginger ale-y flavors.  From a mouthfeel standpoint, Bruno's wine hits the tongue with acid-gusto and then softens - finishing off with creamy texture.

With this nuanced, fairly complex wine, I suggest pairing it to dishes that pack some flavor diversity. I enjoyed Giacosa  with sauteed radicchio, white beans and garlic.


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So seeing that minerality is not a word I think the best replacement that applies here is "Petrichor" ("PET-ruh-core").

- The pleasant smell that accompanies the first rain after a dry spell.

[From petro- (rock), from Greek petros (stone) + ichor (the fluid that is supposed to flow in the veins of the gods in Greek mythology). Coined by researchers I.J. Bear and R.G. Thomas.]

"Petrichor, the name for the smell of rain on dry ground, is from oils given off by vegetation, absorbed onto neighboring surfaces, and released into the air after a first rain." Matthew Bettelheim; Nature's Laboratory; Shasta Parent (Mt Shasta, California); Jan 2002. (Link)

It may be the perfect definition.


great suggestion Mike. Petrichor sounds more pleasing than 'Minerality.'It may indeed be the perfect definition - plus I learned something on a Saturday morning (bonus!).

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