Why are high altitude Malbecs better? Let’s ask the winemaker
At All Things Drinks, we go live with winemakers via Instagram Live and find out more about their wines, country, vineyards and of course taste the wines together.
Here is a short clip from our full interview with Santiago Mayorga from Cadus Wines where he explained why altitude is important when picking the best grapes for his high-altitude Malbecs from Tupungato, Argentina.
We so often find that when we are making that buying decision or when we have bought the wine already and turn the bottle to read the back label to help us learn and enjoy the wine more, we see these altitude numbers on the back of wine labels, telling us that the grapes were grown at 400 meters or 1600 meters above sea level. And it does make you wonder:
“what do they mean?”
“higher altitude = better wine?”
“how does it affect the taste of the wine?”
So when we had a chance to interview an award winning winemaker from Argentina, who specialises in making high-altitude Malbecs, we asked him exactly that. He summarised the impact on grapes, wines and the flavour of the wine, all in under 4 mins!
Santiago says that many factors affect the grapes grown in high altitude sites. One of them is the UV light, the higher the altitude, the thinner the air and thus the higher the amount of UV light is present. In order to protect themselves, the grapes adapt to create thicker skins. The skins of red wine grapes are very important for providing colour and flavour concentration in the final wines. With these thicker skins, the high-altitude Malbec grapes create wines with that beautiful intense violet colour and also lots of flavours.
The second factor is the temperature variation between day and night. Vineyards at high altitudes have bigger temperature variation, which means their days can be hot and their nights are quite cool. This helps to maintain natural acidity in the grapes and maintain the freshness. It is similar to keeping fruit refrigerated, if it is kept cool, it will taste fresher for longer versus leaving it out on a hot sunny day. Back to the wine – so this natural acidity helps keep the wine vibrant, crunchy and even savoury – all good things for a delicious red wine.
The third and the final factor is these high-altitude wines age really well. Remember the thick skins and the high extraction – this is results into concentrated wines which can age for upto a decade and maybe even more, if stored correctly. So even when you open these wines 5 years after the grapes were harvested, the wine tastes fresh and full of those fruity flavours.
Overall, the Cadus Tupungato Malbec we can taste notes of black fruits, tea notes, figs, cassis, graphite, soft aromatic notes of lavender, herbs and well integrated notes of oak. The wine is aged for 12 months in French Oak barrels which give lovely aromas and flavours but more importantly, create a balanced smooth wine with good tannin structure and mouthfeel.
Sounds heavenly right? If this article has made you want to pick up a bottle of this delicious Malbec, you can find it on our webshop – Cadus Tupungato Malbec
We hope you have enjoyed this article and learned something about these incredible wines. If you would like to watch the full interview – click on the link to our Instagram Live – Meet The Tastemakers – Santiago Mayorga from Cadus Wines
If you would like to learn more about wine tasting in general, read the Wine Lingo 101 article, where we breakdown some of the wine jargon to help you go from learner to pro in no time.