Sparkling Wine Mountains and Rivers: Trentino-Alto Adige
7th January 2021
As part of a new series, I want to take a look at sparkling wines that are close to / influenced by mountain regions and major rivers.
Grape vines are grown all across the world in both the southern and northern hemispheres (30th and the 50th degrees of latitude). These vineyards are not confined to just big fields with rows and rows of vines planted and grapes harvested, the versatility of the grape vine allows it to grow in some very demanding places and conditions.
“An estimated 10,000 types of grapes exist in the Vitaceae family, only around 1,300 of these are used in winemaking.” source foodrepublic
There is said to be over 18 million acres of cultivated vineyards worldwide with many contained within the famous wine growing countries of Italy and France. You will also see a large proportion planted and producing wine in America, China, South Africa and South America.
From small vineyards in fields within picturesque English countryside locations to lines of vines stretching out as far as the eye can see, several miles, supplying mass production in the USA. Vineyards can be eye catching, breathtaking, unique and commercial though at the end of the day their sole purpose is to provide the blend to make wines.
“At 11,690 feet above sea level (officially 3,563.31 meters or over 2.2 miles high), the “Pure Land & Super-High Altitude Vineyard” in Cai Na Xiang, Qushui County of Lhasa, Tibet, has been certified as operating at the highest altitude.” source foodandwine
Vines are a vigorous, resilient plant that many will say perform better when challenged. They are able to survive under most conditions from extreme weathers to tough soil conditions. You will see vines not only on soft soils on flat land, but you will also admire them at higher altitudes with sloping hills containing rocks and stones. Their roots can travel on average 2.5 to 5 metres in order to obtain nutrients / minerals / water though they can descend much further if needed in tougher conditions.
“I have travelled to many wine regions and seen many varied styles of vineyards. I have myself been part of annual harvests and picked grapes on sloping hills that when it rained I remember very well sliding down the hill side unable to gain the grip required to pick the grapes – I remember the person in charge abandoning the picking and us jumping on to the trailer on the back of the tractor and moving on to the next vineyards. High and low, next to river banks and those up in the clouds, I have seen many vines growing in extreme conditions yet the wines they produce go on to be award winning gems.” Christopher Walkey
High altitude wine growing regions in Europe
I wanted to look at one region that I have visited and which, like many other wine regions of Europe, is the height it is thanks to the influence of the Alps. With an impressive area totalling 298,128 km², the Alps spreads out across the following countries: France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Switzerland, Liechtenstein. Austria is in fact 28.7% of the total area of the country is the Alps.
This mountain range influences wines in many ways from seeing them harvested on their slopes to sharing climates and soil types / streams and much more.
“Having been to Alpine regions many times I can very much relate to the Alpine freshness that is used by some when explaining aromas and tastes of wines – I have stood in many of the countries with the Alps in view and seen the influence of these mountains and certainly embraced the freshness in the air they hold.“
One of the smallest wine growing regions in Italy and quite some way North being just a few km’s away from Austrian border – The Alto Adige region hold 5,000 vine growers, 5,500 hectares and a total of 20 grape varieties used. Mostly white wines are produced with many also producing sparkling labels. The official Alto Adige website lists some 230 wineries. Attached to and north of the Trento DOC region.
“The multifaceted vineyard landscape of Alto Adige reveals itself on one hand near the valley floor on alluvial land and debris cones, on the other hand on impressive hillsides and terraced slopes up to elevations of 1,000 m (3,300 ft.) above sea level.” source Alto Adige Wines
One winery that finds itself in this amazing wine region is Arunda Sektkellerei located in Mölten – A winery that produces a fine selection of 12 traditional method (Metodo Classico) sparkling wines. These wines include award winning examples along with labels to suit all preference from vintage to extra brut and rosé included. Quoted as being 1,200 meters of altitude of Meltina, they are also referenced occasionally as the highest winery in Europe.
Michael ‘Muggi’ Reiterer, quite an artist person who frequently releases artwork and shares them actively on social media (find him on Facebook here), works on the winemaking process and has his own artist label ‘Cuvée Muggi’. The winery sees some 100,000 bottles produced each year and production is led by Josef Reiterer and Marianne Reiterer.
Award winning Alto Adige sparkling wines:
In 2019 their label ‘Cuvée Marianna’ Extra Brut Vintage took home the trophy for ‘Vintage’ at the Glass of Bubbly Awards, Michael travelled to London in order to claim his very well deserved praise and golden goblet. In 2020 Arunda saw two golds and two silvers for their entries.
As part of this article, I wanted to take a look at one of the wines of Arunda and what better place to start than by exploring the ‘Cuvée Muggi‘ label seeing as I see this quite frequently referred to on Michael’s Facebook timeline. ‘Magic Bubbles’ is very much the philosophy that Michael works under so can I echo his description with my tasting?
Arunda – Cuvee Muggi tasting notes: “A most engaging nose with apricot, yellow flora, soft pastry. Flavours are initially dry and crisp showing lemon and peach skin, then flows into rounder honeysuckle, sea breeze, apricot, grapefruit characters. Elegant and fresh in style. Very Alpine!”
Title image full copyright to: www.altoadigewines.com
Co-founder of Glass of Bubbly. Journalist and author focused on Champagne & Sparkling Wines and pairing them with foods.