Mind your Latitude: 40º North

We’ve looked at wine through the lens of grapes, places, soils, barrels, bottles, and stems…and for the next few weeks we’re taking a look at latitude. Today, we present: 40 degrees North!

Bairrada DOC: The Bairrada DOC is located in north/central Portugal, just inland from the Atlantic coast. The area grows a range of grapes and produces red, white, rosé, and sparkling wine. White wines are typically based on the Fernão Pires (Maria Gomes) grape, but may be produced from several other varieties as well, including Arinto (Pedernã), Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Rabo de Ovelha, and Verdelho.  Reds are produced using a minimum of 50% Baga. The Baga grape variety is well-known for its powerful tannin, great structure, dark color, and complex cherry-berry-plum-tobacco-coffee flavors. Some of Portugal’s best Baga-based red wines are produced in the Bairrada DOC.

Chengde, Hebei: Hebei is a province in eastern China, located on the Bohai Sea coast and surrounding the municipalities of Beijing and Tianjin. Hebei, whose name translates to “north of the river” is located north of the Yellow River. It is estimated that Hebei, together with its neighbor Tianjin, has over 50 wineries and over half of China’s total wine production. In the area’s vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon is the leading grape variety, followed by Chardonnay, Merlot, and Marselan. The China Great Wall Wine Company (the country’s largest producer, in terms of volume) and the Sino-French Demonstration Vineyard (Domaine Franco Chinois) are both located here.

Humboldt County, CA: Humboldt County—best known for Redwood National Park and the tallest trees on earth—occupies part of the northernmost reaches of California.  Viticulture is sparse—there are perhaps 60 acres currently planted to vine in all of Humboldt County—and yet a range of cool-climate grapes are grown here, including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah, and Merlot.  The tiny Willow Creek AVA, one of the few to be found in the area, lies in the valley of the Trinity River surrounded by the rugged Klamath Mountains. The influence of the river makes the AVA slightly warmer than the surrounding areas. PS: The Willow Creek AVA of Humboldt County should not be confused with the Paso Robles Willow Creek District AVA (located 500 miles to the south).

Madrid: The Community of Madrid—located somewhat in the center of the country—is one of the autonomous communities of Spain. The city of Madrid—the capital city of Spain, full of world class art museums (the Prado, the Thyssen-Bornemisza, the Reina Sofía), historic squares (Plaza Mayor) and amazing parks (El Retiro)—lies within its borders. However, in the context of wine, we’re going to focus on the autonomía of Madrid and its very own DO wine region:  Vinos de Madrid DO.  Red, white, rosé, and sparkling wines are produced in the Vinos de Madrid DO, using a range of grapes including Viura, Torrontés, Parellada, Tinto Fino (Tempranillo), Garnacha Tinta, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah. The Vinos de Madrid DO is also approved for “sobremadre” wines produced via an extended maceration (up to 180 days) on the madre—that is, the grape skins and stalks. During this time period, the madre slowly sinks to the bottom of the vessel and lends a gentle clarification to the wine. Both red and white (orange) wines are produced via this process.

Marmara, Turkey: Turkey’s Marmara wine region (also known as the Thracian region) is situated in the north of the country, bordering the Marmara Sea (as well as the Black Sea and the Aegean).  The region can be quite humid, to say the least: it averages 73% humidity. The region typically has mild winters and warm summers, showing characteristics of both maritime and Mediterranean climates. A range of grapes are grown in the area, including international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Viognier. Native Turkish grapes such as Adakarası, Kalecik Karası, and Papazkarası are also planted. The region produces about 13.6% of the country’s wine.

Sardinia: Located about 150 miles (240km) off the west coast of Italy, Sardinia is one of the largest islands in the  Mediterranean Sea (second only to Sicily). Despite the fact that just a small portion of the island’s 9,300 square miles are dedicated to viticulture, a wide range of grape varieties are grown on Sardinia. These include including native Italian varieties (such as Monica, Torbato, and Nasco), French varieties (such as Cabernet Sauvignon), and those believed to be native to Spain (including Grenache and Carignan). Grenache is a bit of a local hero—starring in the well-known Cannonau di Sardegna DOC—as is Vermentino, which is made into several wines, including Vermentino di Gallura (the island’s only DOCG wine).

Slopes of Meliton PDO: TheSlopes of Meliton PDO is located on the Greek mainland in the region known as Halkidiki (Chaikidki). Haikidiki is often described as resembling “a hand with three fingers.” Vineyards of the Slopes of Meltion PDO are planted in terraces up Mount Meliton, starting at elevations of 328 feet (100 m) and continuing up as high as 1,150 feet (350 m).  A range of grapes, including both Greek and international varieties are planted here. The main wines produced under the rules of the PDO include dry whites (based on Athiri, Roditis, and Assyryiko) and dry reds produced with a minimum of 70% Limnio (often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and/or Cabernet Franc). Domaine Porto Carras is the main producer.

Taurasi DOCG: Located in Italy’s Campania region about 30 miles inland from the city of Naples, the area around Taurasi has been known for its wine for a long time…since 800 BCE, according to some. These days, this ancient region is enjoying a newly-found popularity, thanks in large part to the efforts of Antonio Mastroberardino and his truly legendary 1968 vintage. Taurasi earned its DOCG status in 1993 and according to these standards it must be made using a minimum of 85% Aglianico. Taurasi tends to be a highly tannic red wine that comes into its own with a few years of age (perhaps 8 at least). Those that have the patience (and the cellar space) will be rewarded with a well-structured, complex wine with floral-fruity-flavors of sour cherry, raspberry, dried plum, dried herbs, licorice, and spice.

Warren Hills AVA: New Jersey might not be famous for wine production, but early American colonists successfully planted grapes and made wine here as early as 1767. These days, New Jersey boasts just over 50 bonded wineries and more than 1,500 acres (607 ha) of vineyards. The state contains four AVAs (one of these—Central Delaware Valley—is shared with Pennsylvania). The Warren Hills AVA, located in the rolling hills of the New York-New Jersey Highlands  is found in the northwest of the state, about 50 miles (80 km)  inland from Raritan Bay. The Warren Hills AVA currently has five wineries and just over 100 acres (40 ha) of vines. Many of the grapes grown here are cold hardy hybrids such as Vidal, Chambourcin, and Catawba; vinifera grapes including Cabernet Franc, Gewürztraminer, and Pinot Noir are grown as well—planted betwixt and between the area’s dairy farms and apple orchards.

Click here for our post: Mind your Latitude – 38º North

References/for more information:

The Bubbly Professor is “Miss Jane” Nickles of Austin, Texas… missjane@prodigy.net

About bubblyprof
Wine Writer and Educator...a 20-year journey from Bristol Hotels to Le Cordon Bleu Schools and the Society of Wine Educators

One Response to Mind your Latitude: 40º North

  1. Pingback: Mind your Latitude: 38° North | The Bubbly Professor

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