More and more is said about “High Altitude
Wine” but what is it? Where is it? At what altitude? What is special about it?
To be able to call a wine high altitude wine, it has to be made with grapes from vines at great altitude, normally above 800 m and up to altitudes where the climate allows us to grow vines and ripen the grapes.
The main benefit, or difference, is an enviable refreshing effect (due to its greater acidity). This is due to the effect of the temperature change between the day and the night. Although there is more sun at a greater altitude, the grapes ripen more slowly and progressively than further down. The ripening cycle slows and the wine gains in complexity and tones.
But this doesn’t happen at any “great altitude”. It must be this specific altitude at this specific geographical latitude.
The wind is another great ally of high altitude wines, and prevents fungi and other diseases. What’s more, most of these vines are covered with snow each year, bringing moisture that melts slowly and creates a reserve in the subsoil for times of drought. The snow also brings atmospheric nitrogen into the ground, which enhances the plant’s vigour.
The country’s rugged and mountainous geography means that the vineyards are at an unusual altitude.
The Andorran wineries are at an altitude of between 860 and 1,200 metres, and apart from their altitude, they are characterised by the fact of being small family businesses.
In addition to wines, other high quality agri-food products are also made, such as ‘Ratassia’, delicatessen, meat, beer, honey, etc.
Reappearance of the vines that had disappeared from the Principality.
In the last few years, the private sector and the public administration have focused on diversifying the primary sector, preserving the landscape and introducing new crops. In this way, the vines, which disappeared at the end of the 19th century due to the phylloxera, have returned once more to the Principality. These small wineries, located mainly in the parish of Sant Julià de Lòria, are a tourist attraction that adds to the already traditional snow tourism and shopping.