This week I want to talk about cool (cold) viticulture. I have mentioned before that in China and Japan they have to bury their vines for the winter, to prevent them from being killed by the frosts and bitter temperatures. However, these are not the only outposts of cold climate viticulture. Here are three more.
NORWAY: Recognised as the most northerly vineyard in the world, the Lerkekåsa Vineyard is in the Telemark fruit-growing region of Norway. Since 2008, Joar and Wenche Saettem, have been growing grapes and producing a Rosé wine from their small vineyard of some 1,700 vines.
The varieties they grow are Hansanski Sladki (originally from Russia) and Solaris (which was developed in Germany).
They are optimistic that over time global warming will allow the growth of more mainstream grape varieties in their “warm” little spot of Norway.
TIBET: Officially recognised by the Guinness Book of records as the highest altitude vineyard in the world, the “Pure Land & Super-high Altitude Vineyard” is 3,563 metres above sea level, which is over 50% higher than the top of our Mount Kosciuszko that stands at 2,228 metres above sea level. It is in Cai Na Xiang, Qushui County of Lhasa, Tibet.
It is no tiny “experimental” vineyard as it has 66.5 hectares of vines planted. There are eleven varieties of vines planted, which are a mixture of recognised cold climate varieties such as Vidal (used extensively in Canadian Ice Wine), variants of Muscat and indigenous Chinese varieties such as Bei Bing Hong which is used for making Ice wine.
The vineyard was planted in 2012, when the company noticed that the locals had viable grape vines in the Cai Na area (which means ‘source of vegetables’ in Tibet) whereas they had nothing but failures in other regions.
They had to completely abandon their low altitude grape growing techniques and develop new ones, as up there, there is more sunlight; less risk of disease and the additional challenges of rapid temperature drops; drought in spring; sandstorms in winter, sunburn and strong storms in summer.
The Rong Shun Biotechnology Development Company that owns the vineyard is planning to build a ‘production facility’ (winery) on site and also develop tourism facilities as they expand their vineyards towards their stated aim of having 650 hectares of vines by 2025.
So far there is no word on the quality of their wines, but one day soon you will be able to visit and stay at the highest vineyard/winery in the world.
ARGENTINA: In contrast to the two “johnny-come-lately” vineyards mentioned above, the Bodegas Colomé (in the northern Salta region of Argentina) were established at 3,100 metres above sea level way back in 1831, with Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon arriving there in 1854 (pre-phylloxera), of which four hectares still exist today.
Today Colome is a massive enterprise with over 39,000 hectares of vines, of which 70 hectares are planted at the highest altitude, a further 350 are planted at 2,600 metres (still taller than our Mount Kosciuszko) and the rest further down the massive slopes of the Andes Mountains.
So what does this all mean? It means that people will go to any lengths, or in this case heights, to plant vines and make wine.
This is just a little snippet of what makes wine and the wine industry so interesting and exciting. Do you have any stories of weird and/or unusual wines? If so please let me know at email@example.com
Thank you and have a great week enjoying delicious and interesting wines. Cheers!
THIS WEEK’S WINE REVIEW:
In my younger days living in Sydney I learned about the joys of dessert wines from both McWilliams Mt Pleasant and Lindeman’s with their Porphyry wines. Divine sweet things that made fresh fruit and dessert cakes sing songs of joy.
Along the way I encountered the sheer pleasure of De Bortoli’ s Nobel One, had an opportunity to visit Chateau D’Yquem and even taste vintages going back to 1976. So you could say, that even though I don’t drink it very often these days, I am a HUGE fan of stickies (and sweet fortifieds – but that is another story).
So, I was pretty chuffed recently at the opportunity to try the 2018 vintage K1 AUTUMN HARVEST (Adelaide Hills) from the Geoff Hardy stable. www.winesbygeoffhardy.com.au
Despite its youth it is already developing a lovely golden yellow colour, which will continue to deepen over the next few years.
The bouquet is redolent with aromas of nectarines and white peaches with just a hint of botrytis characters – orange peel and dried apricots.
OH YUM! The palate is full of ubber sweet peach flavours, a rich mouthful of sweetness but with just the right amount of acidity so that it does not cloy on the finish. A TRULY SUPERB STICKY!
PS: By the way the blurb says that the grapes were picked eleven weeks later than normal and at 9.0% alcohol, no wonder it is so divinely sweet and yummy. MORE PLEASE!!!