Saturday, March 23, 2013

White with Altitude: A Stunning Wine from Italy's Alps


Deep in Italy's alpine highlands is the winegrowing area of Morgex and La Salle planted at the foot of Mont Blanc in the region known as Vallée d'Aoste. This northern and altitudinal limits (vines are planted at almost 5,000 feet elevation) of European viticulture produce a magical white from the rarely seen Prié Blanc grape variety. This is the only white grape planted in the Alps and is remarkably hardy as it ripens late, seemingly impervious to cold and snow. Yet, the wine that emanates from this grape possesses refreshing delicacy and elegance.

Ermes Pavese established his wine estate in this region in 1999. He focuses exclusively on growing and vinifying Prié Blanc. Other than the local cooperative, the Pavese family is one of the very few producers of this wine. Production is tiny as he farms a mere 1.5 hectares (3.75 acre) vineyard. The ungrafted vines, planted on their own pre-phylloxera rootstocks, are trained in a low pergola to get good exposure. Apparently, the cool, high elevation Alpine terroir serves as protection to root diseases.

And so from the highest vineyards in Europe, Pavese produces something truly stunning. The very first time I tasted his wine I was captivated. Its beautiful fruit, freshness, and elegance are something you immediately want to take home with you: like the stark beauty of the Alps.


Blanc de Morgex et de La Salle Vallee d'Aoste DOC, Azienda Ermes Pavese 2010 $27.00 (Click to buy!)


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