The influence of different types of soil on wine: Slate

We continue with the second chapter about the influence of types of soil on wine, having previously talked about the influence of granite. This time we focus on Slate soils.



Slate soils have a metamorphic origin. I.e. they come mainly from clays that are sedimented (fine grains) and compacted due to the high temperatures suffered over time, thus forming thin sheets or layers. They tend to be dark in color, usually bluish, but there are also shades with reddish colors.

The general characteristic of these types of soil is that they are very poor in organic matter, do not retain water and do not cool down so easily during the night. On not having many nutrients, or water, the roots penetrate between the sheets to absorb what they need. The contact with inorganic matter is much greater, which is what leads to that famous mineral aroma.

In Spain we have several areas where slate soils can be found. One of the most famous is the Priorat, where it makes up the majority and is called Licorella. This is a region where the Mediterranean climate has a major influence, and the heat and lack of water exacerbate the two weaknesses of the soil. The result is that this area produces wines with a great deal of body, depth and mineral sensation, due to the mixture of these two factors: soil and climate. Here the great exponents have been those from the now famous revolution that took place years ago. Developers from other areas showed that the variety that this territory spawns be tamed and turned into world-class wines. Clos MogadorClos MartinetClos Erasmus and Dofí. Nowadays other magnificent representatives have also joined these, such as Mas DoixEster Nin or Vall Llach.

The Valdeorras area is also greatly influenced by slate. Here the well-known Godello grape is nourished by all the benefits of slate, as in the distant though famous Rhine region of Germany and its excellent Rieslings. Some of the most representative examples from the territory are Rafael Palacios and Telmo Rodríguez. They are extracting the maximum amount of juice and producing great wines like As Sortes and Branco de Santa Cruz.

El Bierzo has an important part on slate soil, and a particular sub-area is being renamed with the efforts of Ricardo Pérez Palacios and his uncle Álvaro PalaciosCorullón and its different settings are putting Bierzo on the world’s winemaking map. Las LamasMoncerbal and of course, La Faraona, are making a niche for themselves among the world’s great fine wines. With a different character in each vintage, they are fragrant, mineral and complex.

Another area where we can find slate is:
Cebreros: The newly created Cebreros D.O.P. grows Grenache and Albillos on this type of soil. Soto and Manrique is producing very good wines that are suitable for all budgets. The great fine wine of the area is El Reventón by Daniel Landi. Here slate and Grenache blend together perfectly to offer us the most earthy and juiciest part of their wines.
Ribeira Sacra: in the Cañon del Sil area, with the Algueira winery as one of the sub-area’s excellent exponents.
Emporda: the sea breeze tempers the Mediterranean climate and the slate soil to be found in some parts of the Emporda sub-area. Comabruna de Espelt, made with the Cariñena variety is a good example.

So, for lovers of somewhat more structured and earthy wines, slate is one of the best soils. Enjoy them!

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