Mind your Latitude: 44° 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: 44 degrees North!

(The city of) Bordeaux: Bordeaux—the land of first growths, world-famous reds, snappy whites, and luscious dessert wines—radiates out from the city of Bordeaux, itself located on the left bank of the Garonne River about 28 miles/45 km inland from the Atlantic Coast.  The maritime influence is pulled inland via the Gironde Estuary, but blocked a bit by the Landes Forest…making for an overall cool/temperate climate. It is just warm enough to get the grapes—which include Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc and several other varieties—ripened, yet cool enough to create a long, slow road to ripening…and edgy enough to create a distinct vintage variation in its wines.

Bucharest: Bucharest—Romania’s capital and largest city—is located within the country’s Muntenia-Oltenia wine region.  So, after you visit the Palatul Parlamentului and have a snack at Caru’ cu Bere (the city’s oldest beer hall—opened in 1879), jump in your car and head out. Most of the wineries will be located north of the city, in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains. The Deaulu Mare DOC should be your first stop. Deaulu Mare, considered to be one of the most promising wine regions in the country, produces a range of wines but specializes in reds such as those made from Fetească Neagră, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Noir.

Cornas: The Cornas AOC, situated in the Northern Rhône on the western bank of the famous river, is approved for the production of red wines made using 100% Syrah.  Located about 120 miles/195 km from the Mediterranean Coast, Cornas is fairly landlocked and—along with the rest of the Northern Rhône—experiences a mainly continent climate. In Cornas, the finest vineyards are planted on steep, granite slopes that capture the long days of sunshine and help to create ripe, robust grapes that in turn are used to craft rustic, powerful, intensely flavorful wine.

Eugene, Oregon: The city of Eugene is tucked into the southern portion of Oregon’s famed Willamette Valley AVA, just about where the McKenzie River flows into the namesake Willamette. In the city’s Market District you can visit the Oregon Wine Lab to taste wine, take a yoga class, and learn to dance the bachata. On the outskirts of town, you’ll find a plethora of impressive wineries, including Benton Lane, Silvan Ridge, and King Estate. As befits the hallowed ground, these wineries are creating some of the finest Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay on the planet.

Pignoletto DOC: The Pignoletto DOC, surrounding the city of Bologna in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, produces white wines based on the Grechetto Gentile grape variety.  Pignoletto DOC is produced in a range of styles—from dry-and-still to frizzante, sparkling, and sweet (late harvest or Passito). Until 2015, Pignoletto was the name of a grape (a synonym for Grechetto Gentile), a frazione (a village located in Emilia-Romagna), and a wine: Colli Bolognesi Classico Pignoletto DOCG. However, as of the 2015 vintage, it was decided that the term Pignoletto warrants protection as the name of a specific place, and that anyone growing the grape outside of the defined Pignoletto region is not entitled to use the name Pignoletto and should use the name “Grechetto Gentile” instead. Amidst all the ruckus, the Colli Bolognesi Classico Pignoletto DOCG had its name changed to Colli Bolognesi Pignoletto DOCG, and a new DOC—Pignoletto DOC—was born.

Pula, Croatia: Pula, a seafront city on the tip of Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula, is known for having some of the best-preserved Roman ruins outside of Italy. The Istrian Peninsula is also known for a wine producing region, Hrvatska Istra (Croatian Istria) PDO—which is part of the larger Primorska Hrvatska (Coastal Croatia) region. The specialty grape of the region, Malvazija Istarska—known in Italy as Malvasia Istriana or Malvasia del Curso—is believed to be an Istrian native, yet still a part of the extended Malvasia family. Malvasija Istarska is often used in this area to produce a varietal wine—sometimes dry, sometimes sweet. The finest versions are typically crisp and zesty with aromas of fruit (green apple, apricot, lime), flowers, sweet spices, and honey.

Sevastopol, Crimea: Sevastopol, located on the southwestern edge of the Crimean Peninsula, is the largest city in Crimean and an important Black Sea port. The area has a rocky coastline, cool winters, warm-to-hot summers, three main rivers (the Belbek, Chorna, and the Kacha) and an abundance of mountains (including a portion of the Balaklava Highlands). Not surprisingly, it also has something of a wine industry—with quite a history. In the 1800’s, Count Mikhail Vorontsov (1782—1856) imported vines from France and Spain and established vineyards throughout the region. Soon thereafter (in 1878), Prince Lev Sergeievitch Golitsyn—a highly educated member of a royal Family—established a winery in Crimea and began producing award-winning sparkling wines. The winery, Novy Svet, is still in production. A wide range of grape varieties—including international varieties (Muscat, Pinot Gris, Malbec) as well as those typically associated with eastern Europe (Saperavi, Rkatsiteli) are grown in the region.

Tip of the Mitt AVA: Michigan’s Tip of the Mitt is an AVA (approved in August of 2016) is located on the northern tip of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula—an area often (aptly) described as being shaped like a mitten.  Surrounded by water on three sides—Lake Huron to the east, Lake Michigan to the west, and the Straits of Mackinac to the north—the area’s cold-in-winter continental climate is somewhat assuaged by the summer warmth held in place well into the fall by the thermal mass of the huge lakes. Nevertheless, the region runs the risk of cold-weather calamities such as spring frost and winterkill, so the majority of the vineyards are planted to cold-hardy hybrids such as Frontenac Gris, Marquette and La Crescent.

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

2 Responses to Mind your Latitude: 44° North

  1. SAHMmelier says:

    And my hometown! There is a newly minted AVA there too, Champlain Valley.

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