Have you ever thought about elevation and wine? Well, believe it or not, elevation plays a key role in wine production.
Like so many other factors, the elevation of a vineyard is an important aspect of its ability to produce great wine grapes. What’s interesting is that its importance varies based on where the vineyard is. For instance, in South America, which is close to the equator, if vines were planted at, or near, sea level, the temperature would be so hot and humid that the grapes could not produce anything even approaching great wine.
The higher elevation, such as those found in Chile and Argentina, is the most critical factor in ameliorating the temperature. Heat collects at the bottom, but passes through at the top. Therefore, the heat summation in the higher elevations is not even close to that which is on the floor.
In more temperate climates at sea level, elevation is important because that elevation was caused by geological occurrence which forces rocks and limestone into the soil. That rock and limestone assure proper drainage and supply nutrients essential to a vines health and its ability to produce great grapes for making great wines.
Check out www.facebook.com/wineofthemonthclub for more information! Loads of fun facts and hilarious pictures.
I was recently asked a great question…
“At a recent wine tasting we kept hearing the phrase ‘Malo’ or
‘It’s not 100% malo’, or ‘There is no malo’. What does this
mysterious phrase mean?”
~ M.Z., Milwaukee, WI.
And I answered with this…
It is encouraging to hear that you are attending wine tastings. It
is time to ‘mellow out about malo.’ Malo is short for malolactic
fermentation, which is the conversion of the strong, harsh malic
acid (which is normally present in new wine and apples) into the
weaker lactic acid and carbon dioxide. Lactic acid is the acid of milk.
This transformation makes the wine less harsh, less tart, and more
supple. It can also add flavor and complexity to both red and white
wines and eliminates the chance of the fermentation occurring
after the wine has been bottled. This result would be a wine that
is gassy and cloudy. The process is not at all related to alcoholic
fermentation. Malo almost always happens after alcoholic
fermentation, which is why it is sometimes called a ‘secondary
fermentation’. Mastery of this fermentation process was one of
the great developments in winemaking in France and the world
in the 20th century. Malolactic fermentation occurs naturally
when the temperatures become warmer in the spring. There can,
however be too much or not enough malo which means and a
control system is the key to perfecting the wines.
Chardonnay has a great affinity for malolactic fermentation,
creating soft, creamy almost buttery textures. Chenin Blanc,
Riesling and Gewurtztraminer show their true colors with the
fresh fruit acidity that makes them so great tasting. A wine that
is bottled and meant to be drunk immediately would not
need malo. Most red wines naturally go through malolactic
fermentation. It is the white wines, generally Chardonnay,
that are monitored and stylized. It all boils down to the
winemaker’s discretion and the style of wine she/he wishes
to produce. It is fun to buy several different styles and see
which ones suit your tastes and recipes. So have fun and
see what you prefer.