According to Winespeed:
At 11,690 feet above sea level (3,563 meters or over 2.2 miles high), the “Pure Land & Super-High Altitude Vineyard” in Cai Na Xiang, Lhasa, Tibet, has been designated by Guinness World Records, as the “world’s highest vineyard.” The roughly 160-acre vineyard, planted in 2012 on the Tibetan Plateau, includes 11 different grape varieties from the well-known muscat, to bei bing hong, an indigenous variety used to make local ice wine. Though no facilities currently exist, owner Rong Shun Biotechnology Development Ltd. hopes to expand the size of the vineyard as well as build a winery and tasting room. Meanwhile, half a world away, winemaker Claudio Zuccino, owner of Ayni winery, farms his vineyard Finca Moya at 10,922 feet (3,329 meters) above sea level, making it the highest vineyard in South America (2nd highest in the world). Ayni’s facility, Cava Mina Moya is, however, the highest altitude wine cellar in the world. Chewing coca leaves to cope with the oxygen shortage is the norm for Zucchino, who had to construct a single-carriage track four miles up the mountain before he even considered planting vines. The vineyards of Armenian winery Zorah, in the foothills of Biblical Mount Ararat, grow at 5250 feet (1600 meters) above sea level, a stone’s throw from the world’s oldest known winemaking facility (the 6100-year old Areni 1 cave). Mount Sutherland Vineyards in South Africa sits at a mere 4,921 feet (1500 meters) above sea level in the Sneeuberg Mountain Range.
An amazing number: U.S. wineries purchase 200,000 oak barrels annually from France. The U.S. is the largest importer of French oak barrels (up to $1,800 each), buying one-third of France’s production. Only 25 percent of a French oak tree is used in barrel making; with American oak, at least 50 percent is used, and the price of American oak barrels is less than half. The rest of an oak tree is used for building materials, fuel, fertilizer, and barrel alternatives such as chips, spirals, and cubes.
Spanish wines are a good bargain these days. Winespeed: Barolo and Barbaresco, two of Italy’s most legendary and serious reds, are not grape varieties but the names of wines made in the Alba region of Piedmont from nebbiolo grapes. The red grape barbera is Piedmont’s most widely planted variety and the region’s favorite every night dinner wine. Vineyard estates in Piedmont, Italy’s preeminent wine region, are meticulously cared for and mostly small (the average vineyard estate is 3 to 5 acres/1.2 to 2 hectares), which reflects vintners’ philosophic belief that great wine is the progeny of a single, perfectly adapted grape variety—in this case, nebbiolo. Supremely complex and riveting, Barolo and Barbaresco are esteemed throughout Italy because nebbiolo, one of the world’s most site-specific grape varieties, is one of the most difficult to master. No place else in the world has more nebbiolo than Piedmont, and no place else has had more success with this complicated grape. Barolo and Barbaresco are highly structured, expensive wines that can be aged for years, even decades. Today most are made in a way that renders them softer (but not soft, exactly) at a younger age, and thus enjoyable earlier. These formidable, firm, black-red wines are meant for carnivorous drama—for whole roasted pigs or lambs—or with grand pastas showered with white truffles (Alba, after all is the Shangri-La of these mythic culinary fungi) and costing a ransom. Needless to say, Barolo and Barbaresco are decidedly not what the Piedmontese drink with dinner every night. That distinction goes to barbera (and another lovely red, dolcetto) a vibrant, mouthfilling, slightly rustic wine of the same name, oozing with a wealth of fruit flavors. Barbera is an easy companion to food, thanks to its relatively high acidity and low tannin.
I did not realize yesterday was national Prosecco day. Meanwhile: While cocktail bars today may often substitute Champagne, the Bellini was most definitely born from Prosecco—celebrated yesterday on National Prosecco Day. The first Bellini was poured in the summer of 1948 by Giuseppe Cipriani, founder and barman of the legendary Harry’s Bar in Venice. Inspired by the region’s fragrant white peaches and world-famous sparkling wine, Cipriani pushed the fresh fruit through a sieve to create a purée, then combined it with crisp, bright Prosecco. The official recipe is one-part pureé to two-parts Prosecco. According to Arrigo Cipriani, current bar owner and Giovani’s son, Cipriani named his refreshing concoction after 15th-century local Venetian artist Giovani Bellini, whose landscapes glowed with similar pale pink shades. Harry’s Bar opened in Venice in 1931 and was declared a national landmark by the Italian Ministry for Cultural Affairs in 2001.
What does ABC stand for? Answer below.
It is now the heat of summer, so it seems everyone, except maybe my buddy, Mr. Mike, is moving to lighter, crisper wines. So, chill the bubblies: Champagne, Prosecco, Cremants. Then put a few others in the wine fridge: dry rieslings, Sauvignon blancs, and perhaps a tawny port as an apertif.