Mind your Latitude: 42° 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: 42 degrees North!

Applegate Valley: The Applegate Valley AVA is—along with the Rogue Valley AVA—one of the southernmost AVAs in the state of Oregon. (Technically speaking, the Applegate Valley AVA is a sub-region of the larger, surrounding Rogue Valley AVA.) The Applegate Valley AVA is named for the Applegate River. The source of the Applegate River is located in the Siskiyou Mountains of northern California; from there it flows northeast (then northwest) for about 51 miles (82 km) until it joins the Rogue River for its final journey to the Pacific. The Applegate Valley is slightly further south (and a bit warmer and drier) than much of Oregon’s wine country and is quite well-suited to Bordeaux and Rhône varieties including Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah—although Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Tempranillo are found here as well. 

Cayuga Lake: The Cayuga Lake AVA extends for over 40 miles (65 km) along either side of Cayuga Lake (the longest of New York’s Finger Lakes). The vineyards of the area—which became an AVA in 1988—benefit from three natural features of the region: the temperature-moderating effects of the lake itself, the steep hillsides poised to catch the morning sun, and the heat-retaining, finely-grained shale soils. The Cayuga Lake AVA is particularly well-known for Riesling produced in a particular mineral-and-fruity flavor style, as well as Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, and Pinot Gris. The Cayuga Lake AVA is a sub-region of the New York’s Finger Lakes AVA. 

Fennville AVA: The Fennville AVA, located along the shores of Lake Michigan, was the first AVA approved in the state of Michigan (back in 1981). The tiny Fennville AVA is completely surrounded by the larger Lake Michigan Shore AVA. Between the two of them, the Fennville and Lake Michigan Shore AVA grow over 40% of Michigan’s grapes. The Fennville AVA grows vinifera grapes—primarily those that can thrive in cool climates such as Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay—as well as cold-hardy hybrids such as Traminette, Vignoles and Chardonel. 

Hokkaido: Hokkaido, a large island located in the northern section of Japan, was awarded a GI (geographical indication) for wine—Japan’s second—in October of 2018. The wine industry in this area has grown exponentially as of late—in 2000 there were only eight wineries to be found here; today the number is closer to 40. Hokkaido GI wines are produced using Koshu, Muscat Bailey-A, and several other grapes—including Pinot Blanc, Bacchus, Gewürztraminer, and Pinot Noir.

Orvieto: Orvieto DOC—a crisp white based on Trebbiano Toscano (known here as Procanico) and Grechetto grapes—is one of the best-known wines of Umbria. Umbria is a land-locked region located in the rugged Apennines between Marches and Tuscany. Grapes used in the production of Orvieto take up nearly 80% of Umbria’s vineyard area, with many vines planted in the valley of the Paglia River as it flows from Mount Amiata towards the Tiber. Orvieto is typically a dry wine, but semi-sweet and sweet styles are produced as well. 

Patrimonio: Located towards the northern end of the French island of Corsica, the vineyards of the Patrimonio AOC have a lovely view of the fishing boats (and pleasure yachts) in the Gulf of Saint-Florent. The area is blessed with limestone, chalk, and clay soils as well as the typical Mediterranean climate of mild winters followed by long, warm, dry summers. Red, white, and rosé wines are produced here, with the list of grape varieties showing the influence of both Italy (located just 75 miles/120 km away) and France. Red wines are typically based on Sangiovese (known here as Nielluccio) sometimes blended with splash of Grenache. The best-known white wine of the area is 100% Vermentino (Malvoisie de Corse).

Racha, Georgia: Racha is a small wine region—often discussed together with the equally small Lechkumi region (aka Racha-Lechkhumi)—located in the northern section of Georgia along the border with Russia. The region is known for its fertile soils and sunny climate that help to produce grapes very high in sugar content.  Semi-sweet red wines—particularly Khvanchakara (based on Alexandrouli and Mujuretuli grapes)—are a specialty of the area.

Rías Baixas: The Rías Baixas (“low estuaries”) DO occupies the northwest corner of Spain, bounded on two sides by the cold Atlantic Ocean and sharing its southern border with the Minho Region of Portugal. The Albariño-based wine produced in Rías Baixas might just be the highest-regarded white wine of Spain (forgive me Rueda and Valdeorras—rest assured we love you too).  While the Rías Baixas DO produces a range of wines (including small amounts of red and sparkling wines) from a list of grape varieties; white wine aficionados around the world crave the stone fruit, citrus, and white flower aromas of a 100% Albariño from the Rias Baixas DO. 

Rioja Alta: The Rioja Alta Zone, surrounding the town of Haro, is the westernmost (and according to many, the most important) sub-region of the Rioja DOCa. The majority of the zone lies south of the Ebro River. The Rioja Alta sits slightly lower than the Rioja Alavesa to the north, and slightly higher than Rioja Oriental (formerly the Rioja Baja) located to the east. The Rioja Alta is known for its reddish, alluvial soils rich in limestone, clay and iron. Tempranillo is the superstar grape here, renowned for the complexity and structure it lends to the wines of the region along with its blending partners including Garnacha, Mazuelo, and Graciano.   

Valley of the Roses, Bulgaria: Bulgaria’s Valley of the Roses wine region is located just to the south of the east-west running Balkan Mountains, in the region (and wine region) known as the Thracian Lowlands (or Thracian Valley). The Valley of the Roses is primarily known for its flower industry focusing on Damask roses—many of which are used to produce rose oil for use in perfumes and cosmetics all over the world. The Valley of the Roses is also an emerging wine region focusing mainly on white wines produced from Muscat, Muscatel, Riesling, Rkatsiteli, and the pink-skinned Misket Cherven.

References/for more information:

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

Click here for more information on our “Mind your Latitude” series

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

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