Prié Blanc is a lesser known wine variety that also goes by the name Blanc de Morgex et de la Salle. It is a white wine grape indigenous and grown exclusively in the north western Alpine region of Vallée d’Aoste in Italy. This wine region has some of the highest elevations to produce grapes within Europe (the wine I selected had grapes grown at 1200 meters). The vines of Prié Blanc have adapted to this climate by being late to experience budburst at the start of the growing season. A late budburst decreases the likelihood the new growth will be damaged by late spring frosts. During vine dormancy in the winter months, vineyard maintenance crews prune vines to limit the number of buds each plant will have during the growing season. This process leads to lower yields of grapes but increases the quality. If frost damages the remaining buds after budburst, this can be devastating to crops for that year’s vintage. This altitude has also hampered the growth of the louse, Phylloxera. Wine plants in the region are mostly original wood of the wine grape. The vines are quite old by current standards, many over 50 years old. Vines this old produce wines with more concentrated flavors, more minerality and increased complexity. In most of the rest of the world, the desired grape variety is grafted onto the roots of North American rootstock to prevent Phylloxera infection. Another result of this high altitude and cooler climate is the sharp acidity the wines maintain while they ripen early. The vines are trained so the grapes are closer to the ground, which maximizes the warmth the rocks under the vines emit to speed ripening.
The wine I selected to drink was 2018 Blanc de Morgex et de La Salle from Pavese Ermes. It was a clear pale lemon with long, viscous legs. The less intense nose was fascinatingly complex. It consisted of lemon pith, toasted oat cereal, almond, white peach, and green apple. Knowing the wine would have a substantial level of acid, I decided to pair it with a gyro salad topped with feta cheese, pepperoncinis, kalamata olives and tzatziki. The levels of acid in the food and wine were complementary. When I tasted the wine, it also had notes of honeysuckle. This floral hint partnered with the dill in the tzatziki nicely. Prié Blanc has a mineral undertone on the palate as well due to the alpine soil in which it is grown. This note makes it a great wine to pair with white fish and seafood but the wine also had enough body to pair with the gyro meat made of a combination of pork and beef. I really enjoyed this pairing. It made for an easy and light midweek dinner for my #170th wine variety sampled!