4000 MÈTRES: Vins d'Altitude-- SUSTAINABLE!
4000 Mètres Vins d'Altitude is a project between PortoVino and the local Alpine, trekking gear wearin' enologist, Gianluca Telloli. Even though the Valle d'Aosta is one of the more traditional wine growing areas in Italy, extending back to Ancient Roman times, in the States we are just discovering this area (as we saw in Alto Adige a few years ago).
So, from Gianluca , the native Valle D'Aostian himself, one whose veins coarse with mineral mountain wine, 4000 MÈTRES' vision:
"With 4000 MÈTRES, we wanted to bring attention to the altitude at which the vineyards are found, along with the heroic viticulture that takes place. The consortium works through the the catina of three local cooperatives [Gianluca is an enologist there] nestled between a group of mountains reaching 4000 meters, with Mont Blanc [14,692 ft.] being the most imposing. We've even included two of the oldest Alpine guides to be part of this adventure of alpine air and heroic viticulture."
The cooperatives here are small and produce high quality wines from local traditions hundreds of years old. Although much less known than the Alto Adige, these wines hold many similarities : cool native grapes, high altitudes, zippy acidity, clean understated fruit -- and minerals that break dance. There are also a high percentage of ungrafted vines.
We are glee-filled to be the ambassadors here in the States: Alpine expeditions meet one of the most unique viticultural areas not only in Italy, but in the world. We've begun importing 4000 Mètres Vins d'Altitude: Vin Blanc de Morgex et de La Salle, we'll soon be bringing in the red wines of Enfer as well.
4000 Mètres Vins d'Altitude: Cave du Vin Blanc de Morgex et de La Salle:
Cave du Vin Blac de Morgex et delle Salle is a small cooperative made up of 90 members from the little Alpine towns of Morgex and La Salle. Most members have small bucolic vineyard patches, a few rows here and there. They tend the vines as a part-time hobby and as a full-heart calling -- to save a tradition on the verge of being lost. Sadly, lots of young folks went to the cities for work; hopefully, this is changing with the new guard lead by 30 somethings like Gianluca.
The vines are trained and protected by the ancient Roman pergola bassa, or low pergola, an Ancient Roman vine training system of arching trellised arbors connected by stones walls and columns. The stones retain the heat and protect the grapes; as does the ground (which is often made of stone as well). Climbing through these vine tunnels, ducking the hanging grapes, and making your way to the next stone column and foot path, is an intimate experience; it all becomes metaphysically intensified, when you glance up to see the soaring white capped mountains held the crystal-blue air. With the pergola so low, grapes are sometimes gathered by the men and women on their knees. Heroic viticulture: Alpine views; aching knees; and metaphysics.
But enough of in situ struggle and romance, what is the Prié Blanc grape? It's a rare native grape, grown only here, that gives delicate wines that are low in alcohol. There's a radiating - almost electric - presence of savory minerals and acidity, and the occasional mountain flower topping things off. These are not wines that scream for attention but they aren't exactly shy either.