What exactly should the limits be in order to call it a high altitude wine? Is it 1,000 feet above sea level? Was it 2,000? What if you’re trying to market high-elevation wines…What do you need to explain? Will you confuse the consumer?
How do you explain the High Altitude wines? Are they any better? It’s all debatable.
Maybe 2000 feet should be the limit. Who knows…
Furthermore, what we do know is that unless something is certified it will be up for grabs.
We know this because unless a certification is granted clearly defining a category, something called high elevation or mountain wines would fall under the title or designation similar to “old vine” wines or “reserve” wines in which the categories have no officially sanctioned meaning or definitive guarantee.
In my opinion, even with altitude, Climate seems to be the single-most influence on wines these kind of wines. Cool temperatures at higher elevations manifest in wines that can be beautifully balanced with intense fruit with somewhat of a dry aspect.
One thing I found that is very interesting is there is research being done that is trying to verify that consumption of wines from high altitude vineyards may contribute to a greater life expectancy. That’s great especially when you combine it with the research that has shown new evidence on how wine might help prevent heart attacks. - particularly red wine rich in polyphenols which they say is very good.
With all this good info… High elevation/mountain vineyards are some of the more difficult to farm. It's harder work to establish them, they're lower yield. Also, it’s safe to say that the people who plant the vineyards at elevation are of a different type of character maybe than those you have vineyards at valley floor or flatland. Which is interesting to talk about.
Again, for the most part, I find the high elevation or mountain wines are bigger, with more alcohol, more tannin. Valley floor wines are softer and a little rounder, more feminine. I do find that high altitude wines are less plush. And have tighter structure without being hard and there is frequently a little kind of dry spice aspect or tannin aspect to them, not peppery spice though…
The Argentinian Malbec is probably a good indicator or a wine from Sardinia, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon or Châteauneuf-du-Pape.