Goats and Volcanoes are an Earthly Match #WinePW

Volcanic Wines for October Wine Pairing Weekend
The theme for our October Wine Pairing Weekend group is: Volcanic Wines. When I think of volcanoes and wine, I can only think of Sicily and Mount Etna.  There are lots of places in the world where grapevines grow in volcanic soil, but I can only think of one where the grapes grow on the slopes of an active volcano.

You can see the smoke plume from space!

Mt. Etna is clearly visible on the eastern side of Sicily. You can see the smoke plume from space! photo courtesy of NASA.

The vineyards are not just located in Sicily, they are literally on the lower elevations of Mt. Etna. Does a volcano produce a unique wine, or is it just a great story?  I can’t tell you that the volcanic soil makes something unique, as there is also the altitude, climate, the nearby ocean, which all combine to create the conditions that define Etna DOC wines.

The vineyards are in the tan colored zone, circling Mt. Etna. In some cases, the vines are planted in the areas between recent lava flows! Map courtesy of

The vineyards are in the tan colored zone, circling Mt. Etna. In some cases, the vines are planted in the areas between recent lava flows! Map courtesy of Benanti Winery, via Wikimedia Commons

Etna DOC Wines
The Etna DOC regulations allow for white, rosato (rosé), and red wines. I’ve not seen any Etna Rosato yet, but both the whites and the reds are worth searching out! The foothills of the volcano provide conditions unlike many other parts of Sicily:

  • High altitude 400-1500 meters – for large day-night temperature swings
  • East exposure – plenty of precipitation in the fall & winter, dry in the summer.  Contributes to an ability to grow grapes organically, as disease pressure is low. You can even see the green landscape in the satellite photo above.
Etna Bianco is a blend of Carricante and Catarratto. This one was quite rich without being overly oaky. It stood up to the goat as nicely as the Etna Rosso.

Etna Bianco is a blend of Carricante and Catarratto. This one was quite rich without being overly oaky. It stood up to the goat as nicely as the Etna Rosso.

Valle Galfina Etna Bianco ($18 at Zipps Liquors)
Etna Bianco wines are made from indigenous grapes: Carricante (minimum 60%) and Catarratto (no more than 40%). Usually medium bodied with good acidity.

Eye: Clear, medium/warm yellow (more towards pineapple than lemon)
Nose: Shy nose, ripe pears, but you have to work for it.
Mouth: Medium body, rich, seems to have spent time in oak or concrete? Mouthwatering finish, good acidity.

Wines from this area come from the lower reaches of the Mt. Etna volcano. Etna Rosso is mostly Nerello Mascalese. A lovely medium bodied red wine.

Etna Rosso is mostly Nerello Mascalese. A lovely medium bodied red wine.

I Custodi delle Vigne dell’Etna Aetneus Etna Rosso ($39 at South Lyndale Liquors)
Etna Rosato and Etna Rosso wines are made from another set of autochthonous grapes: Nerello Mascalese (minimum 80%) and Nerello Cappuccio/Mantellato (no more than 20%). Drinking an Etna Rosso will bring to mind Pinot Noir. It’s not the same, but it expresses some similar characteristics: medium body, lower tannins, good acidity; and I love it!

Eye: Just a touch cloudy, deep translucent red, tending to warmth on the edge. Not brown at all, but no longer blue/purple.
Nose: Mushroomy earth and dark fruit. Reminds me a bit of a nice CdR. By itself, the fruit is not in front.
Mouth: Immediately dry and astringent, but either not super tannic or well integrated tannins.

Goat Messina, a Sicilian preparation

The town of Messina is very close to the volcano on the eastern side of Sicily. A Messina style preparation usually involves tomatoes, olives and capers.

Goat Shanks & Volcanoes, White or Red?
If you have hesitated to try goat, don’t! It’s quite mild, much less challenging than lamb. “Messina” is a general preparation, applicable to a wide variety of meats and even fish such as swordfish. It generally involves tomatoes, olives & capers (make sure you get the larger salt packed capers for this dish). Between the olives and the capers, there is flavor to spare. This is a dish that’s easy to prepare and tasty enough for company.

How about the wine pairing? The Valle Galfina Etna Bianco had sufficient body to stand up to the flavors in the main dish.  White wine lovers would be happy with this pairing. As for the Etna Rosso, there was an amazing transformation with the food.  The I Custodi doesn’t lead with fruit, but with food, the fruit flavors emerge in a wonderful way. Lovely. A match made in heaven?  Vulcan would say: “No!”, it must be a match made in the center of the earth.  White or red – win/win.

goat shanks with etna rosso and etna bianco wine

Something for everyone, red wine, white wine, goat.

Wine Pairing Weekend Volcanic Edition
If you see this on Saturday morning, Sept. 12, please join in on our twitter chat at 10am CDT!  We’ll be chatting at #WinePW about wines from volcanic soil around the world and food pairings to match.

Here’s what the #winePW crew posted about volcanic wines…
Coming Up…
In October, we’ll be participating in the month-long #MerlotMe celebration.  October has been declared the month that wine lovers worldwide can celebrate the much maligned Merlot grape. Come and join our discussion on October 10!

Goat Shanks Messina

Adapted from Giorgio Locatelli’s “Made in Sicily”
Note:
Goat shanks can be difficult to find, you can substitute lamb shanks, lamb chops, or even pork chops in this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 2-3 lbs of goat shanks
  • 32 black olives, pitted and sliced
  • 10 oz. Etna Rosso wine
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 4 medium tomatoes, cored and chopped roughly
  • 2 carrots, peeled & sliced
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary, left intact
  • 2 Tbsp salted capers, rinsed.
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

Instructions

  • Place the goat shanks and all the other ingredients in a bowl to marinate in the refrigerator for at least two hours, up to overnight.
  • Preheat the oven to 400°F
  • Pour the vegetable ingredients into a 9×13″ pan, then place the goat shanks on top of the vegetables.
  • Roast uncovered for 15 minutes
  • Turn the oven down to 325°F, cover the pan with foil and continue to cook for 90 minutes, checking occasionally for the meat to be finished.
  • Serve over cous-cous.

photo caption

Comments
21 Responses to “Goats and Volcanoes are an Earthly Match #WinePW”
  1. culinarycam says:

    Jeff, what a LOVELY post. Thank for participating in the #scorchedterroir #winePW! Cin cin.

  2. lindaravello says:

    I am being educated already – I now know that DOC in Italy = AOC in France (correct me if I’ve got it wrong) The only volcanic wine that I have sampled is Santo wine from Santorini and that was very good (but not from an active volcano) My partner is interested in both volcanoes and wine, so he is going to try to read this also.

  3. I love the fact that you nearly always profile a white and a red from each challenge. My priest is from Ireland and he told me that they don’t differentiate between lamb and goat so if you were to order lamb in a restaurant it may actually be goat that you get. Not to nitpick here but it is only September and I am still hoping to enjoy some more summer LOL. In October we will have the wonderful #Merlotme theme.

    • Wendy, I guarantee you my wife, Julie, can tell the difference! She’ll eat goat, but lamb? No way. Thanks for the comment on red & white. I always like to test which one really is better (at least to my palate), and I’m often surprised.

  4. Once again you venture out on the food side and make an amazing sounding meal. I have never had goat shank and quite frankly never even seen goat at the butcher. I love your adventurous spirit and your wines sound outstanding as always.

    • Thanks, Michelle. We’re lucky to have made friends with our local goat cheese makers, and they make goat available on occasion. It’s not exactly a grocery store item, although I understand it is the most widely eaten meat worldwide!

  5. I know most people think wine should always be able to stand alone but I don’t think that is necessarily true. I think it is such a cool phenomenon when a wine comes into its own when pIred with the food. It’s like a match made in heaven

  6. That does look like a match made from the center of the earth! We also bought the same red and I’m anxious to try it – maybe with your shanks (though most like mine will be pork – I’ve not seen goat in our local stores). Great photos again!

  7. A wonderful read Jeff. Your passion for Etna DOC wine comes through. I’ve had goat on a few occasions (Jerk Goat most recently). I had an Etna DOC rose earlier this year and I bet that would have worked well with your dish as well. Love how the paired both white and red with the dish here!

  8. arneis2013 says:

    Great, informative post, as usual, Jeff. If I could only pull myself away from Piemonte on one of my trips, I need to get to Sicily. My mom’s family is from Contessa Entellina in the central part of the island, SE from Palermo.

  9. Love that you did a white and red and was interesting to find the white still worked, but since it was tomatoes you were using than a tomato sauce I can see the white working as well. Love them sicilian wines!

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