The Tasting Panel magazine

October 2017

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Page 114 of 124

1 14  /  the tasting panel  /  october 2017 W hen it comes to growing high-elevation fruit, many winegrowers would likely channel Marvin Gaye in saying, "Baby, there ain't no mountain high enough." There's a limit to those aspirations, of course, with the fear of frost damage, but higher elevation doesn't necessarily mean better—especially when we're unable to define what qualifies as high elevation in the first place. We should also factor latitude into the altitude equation. Here in the United States, it seems anything around 1,000 feet above sea level or higher triggers a noticeable difference in fruit character. But in South America, a considerable amount of acreage is grown at around 3,000 feet, due to its close proximity to the equator. It's hotter down there, and as a result, the permanent snow line is higher. The highest vineyards in the world are in Argentina's Salta region, with a few of them growing at around 10,000 feet. Farther away from the equator, in Europe, around 1,600 feet is considered high, but there are places like northwest Italy's Aosta that can get up to 4,300 feet. Optimal height debate aside, we can all agree on the benefits and challenges of growing mountain fruit. In most cases, the pros far outweigh the cons and result in wines with fresher fruit character coupled with deeper concentration. Perhaps what matters most is finding that sweet spot on the mountain: an elevated setting that still takes advantage of some of the benefits (see the sidebar on page 115) while minimizing the potential risks. The Tasting Panel sought out a winery with this very approach, and Ferrari-Carano's PreVail wines made for the perfect case study. PreVailing Exposed to WINDS PHOTOS COURTESY OF FERRARI-CARANO FERRARI- CARANO'S PREVAIL WINES FIND THE SWEET SPOT ON A MOUNTAIN by Jessie Birschbach Ferrari-Carano's LookOut Mountain in the Alexander Valley AVA. MOUNTAIN FRUIT

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