by Louise Vick
Ever wondered how a rockslide might taste? The Apremont wine variety may be the closest you can get. The grapes are grown on the debris of a large rock avalanche from Mont Granier in the Chartreuse mountains, France. The flavour is a distinctively light and dry with floral, mineral characters.
A catastrophic landslide occurred in 1248. A large portion of the mountain failed, forming a rock avalanche covering the valley and several villages. Some reports state the debris covered more that 6 x 6 km, and destroyed 7 villages. Fatality estimates vary from 1000 to 7000, based on various records made by monks at the time. The failure followed relentless rain which saturated the limestone in the upper portion of the slope, causing a failure along the interface with marl below (source).
The grapes produced on the limestone boulder debris are the Jacquère variety, producing Apremont wines (note that Apremont is thought to mean ‘bitter mountain’). The soils of the deposit are porous and free-draining, ensuring that vines receive an optimum amount of hydration for viticulture. The limestone soils that characterise Apremont are also good at storing heat during the day, reflecting it back on the plants at night (source).
Read more about the relationship between geology and wine (this science is termed terroir) here.
Further activity has occurred at the mountain in 2016 and 2016. The latest, in May 2016, saw a large pillar of rock collapse. The rock avalanche generated was up to 70,000 cubic meters in volume. Debris stopped 300 m behind the closest houses in the villages of Brancaz and Tencovaz (source).
Dave Petley also showcases a collection of videos from this event on his Landslide Blog.