Prié Blanc – highest wine of Europe (Courmayeur)
The vineyards near Mont-blanc are some of the highest in Europe, and the subsequent wines have a distinctively Alpine character;
The special wines are produced at an elevation of 900 to 1225 meters above sea level and the grapes are called prié blanc, that is native to these hills. Prié Blanc it is the oldest grape of Valle d’Aosta, and all of the 30 or so acres dedicated to it are DOC designated.
Because of the high altitudes and the extreme climate, this vineyards resisted the phylloxera plague that wiped out many European vineyards in the 19th century. As a result, some of the vines in this area date to 1850; old vines are prized for the richness and character they give to wine.
Today priè blanc remains ungrafted, which means the vines are planted on their original rootstocks unlike the rest of European vines that grow on American phylloxera-resistent roots. It customarily trained low to the ground in pergolas in order to capitalize on the heat that is retained in the soils and radiate it back onto the vines during the cooler evenings. This helps to negate the after-results of the cold mountain nights.
Vineyards are arranged in small, individual plots surrounded by stone walls, which help create microclimates that insulate vines. The grapes are all hand picked and only native yeasts are used for fermentation.
The wine is lightly filtered, aged for a brief time on the lees and then aged six months in bottle prior to release.
Color – medium lemon gold.
Nose – very aromatic with lemons, ripe pears and apple juice fruits with a slightly leesy and slightly chalky kind of edge to it.
Palate – very high acidity, flavors of lemons, green apple, apple juice, and lime with a chalky, stony minerality on the finish. The fruits are vibrant, electric and intense but stay nicely grounded by the strong minerality at the end.
Paring – Gnocchi with mountain herbs, lemon sole with asparagus as well as broad bean and cheese salad.
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