Question: What are your thoughts Sid on vineyard elevation for growing Malbec grapes?
Answer: I like your question. Many grape varieties seem to produce much better fruit at higher elevations as contrasted to being planted on the hotter valley floor. This is especially so now with increased global warming. However I do think there really is something magical to the Malbec variety specifically obtaining much better balance if you can grow it at higher altitude. Laura Catena in her excellent book Vino Argentino points out about their Malbec plantings in the 1990s “The Adrianna vineyard lies in a beautiful location on the westernmost border of Tupungato, in a small district called Gualtallary, flanked by a small hill that shields it from winds, and so close to the mountains that one has the sense that the peaks are looking out over the vineyard. Some of our best Malbec is produced here at Adrianna. It’s hard to believe that at one time no one in Mendoza thought the varietal could ripen above 4500 feet (1370 m) of elevation. But it did – and spectacularly.” This idea that higher elevation is crucial for best Malbec was confirmed this month at a tasting-dinner at the new Victor restaurant in the Parq Vancouver hosted by Spring Valley Vineyard in Walla Walla, Washington. Winemaker Serge Laville told me his Malbec grown on vineyards between 1200-1500 feet consistently produced the very best fruit at the very highest elevations. Q.E.D.
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