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Mendoza Report, part 3: The importance of altitude

>> Wednesday, September 08, 2010

“Everything starts in the vineyard”, says Luis Cabral de Almeida at Finca Flichman, and many producers share this philosophy today. A big advantage here in Mendoza is the fact that it is easy to grow grapes more or less organically. “In Europe you would typically spray 9-10 times a year, here it’s a bad year if we need to spray four times.”

Producers talk a lot about the environment, but the real fashion word today is altitude. Vineyards at high altitudes have the advantage of being cooler which will give more freshness and elegance to the wines. New land is being planted closer to the mountains. Grapes from different altitudes are blended for complexity and often the altitude is mentioned on the label. In the Oku Valley, southwest of the city of Mendoza, vines are grown at an altitude of between 900 and 1400 meters. “On high altitudes we can get phenolic ripeness earlier and thus pick ripe grapes before the sugar level – and consequently the alcohol level - gets too high,” says
Luis Cabral de Almeida.

Trapiche has invested in the Uko Valley. Here, says vineyard manager Guillermo Yaciofano, with the cool climate, sauvignon blanc och pinot noir give very good results. Also Trivento buys land in Uko Valley. Wine maker Maximiliano Ortiz says that producers today are much more aware of the importance of where the grapes are grown.

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