Monday Musings: Alpine Wines

Today’s Monday Musings is focused on Alpine wines. What are they? What does the category include? Generally speaking, Alpine wines tend to come from a cooler climate so the fruit may be very pure but tends not to be overly ripe or to show tropical notes. They seem to have great acidity which comes from cooler nights for the whites. The reds reacher a lesser alcohol level because of the difficulties in ripening the fruit. The reds therefore are lighter in body and often in color. Moreover Alpine wines are very often small production wines and the grapes are harvested under harrowing or heroic viticultural conditions.

Of course these are generalizations and plenty of riesling can be made into a sweeter style at elevation but many don’t choose to make that style of wine. Alpine wines are certainly wines from a mountainous clime like the grapes in the picture from Valtellina in Lombardy.

Can you have Alpine wines from regions that aren’t in the mountains but the vineyards are at elevation? I think that qualifies but I wonder if others agree. You can absolutely taste the difference when a wine is grown at elevation now particularly. I find them racier, more linear, and very often wonderful if also sometimes surprising. I tasted a fantastic wine at Vinitaly made from Nero d’Avola from Morgante. The minute I tasted it, I asked if the wine was made from grapes grown at elevation and in fact, it was. That happened a few times during those intense days at the fair.

It is a topic of interest to me, especially now, as many note that they are lucky to be able to plant higher as climate change impacts regions. I wonder if the go to style of wine in the future will always be highly acidic whites and lighter bodied reds.

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