High in the Alps, straddling the border between Italy and France, towers Monte Bianco otherwise known as Mont Blanc in French. With an elevation of 4,810 meters/15,771 feet, it is the highest mountain in the Alps. Known for its white peaks and the resort towns of Courmayeur and Chamonix, Monte Bianco holds another, somewhat unexpected, treasure… vineyards.
Here at the foot of the mountain, at the end of the Valle d’Aosta, lie the highest vineyards in Europe, the Prié Blanc. At these high altitudes the grapes are cultivated along the lowest slopes so as to protect the fruit from the biting cold and take advantage of the warmer temperatures of the soil. Since 1983 Cave Mont Blanc has been on these slopes producing the only classic spumante certified denominazione di origine from these vineyards.
The vineyards of the Prié Blanc are meticulously cared for by about eighty owners who work an area which reaches up to 1200 meters above sea level and extends the length of a zone called the Dora Baltea, near the towns of Morgex and La Salle.
For the past ten years Cave Mont Blanc has been collaborating with local guides from Courmayeur to specialize in the production of spumante created with grapes from these high altitudes, and in 2009 they succeeded in bottling their very first Blanc de Morgex et de La Salle Metodo Classico Extrabrut “Cuvée des Guides.” The first bottles of this unique sparkling wine were made exclusively in one area, the Monzino, however overtime the winery has made use of Monte Bianco’s cable car system and expanded the production area to include another, the Pavillon, at an altitude of 2173 meters. Here, the grapes undergo the process of tirage when the cuvéè is selected and the sugar and yeast are added. After a period of twenty-four months comes the dégorgement when the frozen sediment is removed. The unique combination of altitude, atmospheric pressure, temperature and careful work make for a singular and excellent spumante.
Another notable producer of Cave Mont Blanc is Vallée d’Aosta D.O.C. Blanc de Morgex et de La Salle, made exclusively with the grape variety from the Morgex vineyards of Prié Blanc. Chaudlune also produces a worthy and diverse Cave Mont Blanc, harvesting on the coldest nights. At these cold temperatures the water inside the grapes freezes while leaving the sugar a liquid. The fruit is immediately pressed and the liquid sugar can be totally extracted while the frozen part remains in the press allowing for a more concentrated “mosto” or must.
With its floral and light tropical fruit aromas Cave Mont Blanc pairs perfectly with fish and shellfish. It’s ideal serving temperature is a cool ten degrees reminiscent of the cool light filled slopes of its vineyards at the feet of the Alps’ tallest mountain.