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Discovering Italy’s high-altitude wines plus 12 worth seeking out

Growing wines in Italy’s hilliest regions is complicated, expensive and demands huge effort. So why do high-altitude producers carry on, and what makes their wines well worth seeking out?

Elegance over power, complexity due to a longer growing season, and – most of the time – craftsmanship of characteristically low-volume wines, represents an irresistible mix for experienced wine consumers.

Add to this the story of ‘heroically grown’ vineyards – exclusively farmed by hand on steep slopes or in marginal climates – and the appeal of wines from high altitudes becomes even stronger, particularly from a marketing standpoint.

Scroll down to see tasting notes and scores for Aldo Fiordelli’s pick of Italy’s high-altitude wines

However, compared to familiar terms such as ‘old vine’, ‘low yield’ or others that have become popular in the wine world, identifying which wines can be called ‘high altitude’ is considerably easier.

In Italy, there are several regions that produce wines at altitude: in the north, Valle d’Aosta, Alto Piemonte, Valtellina and Trentino-Alto Adige, with Tuscany in the centre, Campania to the south and the islands of Sardinia and Sicily.

Vineyards considered to be at altitude are those at more than 500m above sea level, according to the European Centre for Research, Environmental Sustainability and Advancement of Mountain Viticulture (CERVIM).

High praise: Aldo Fiordelli’s pick of Italy’s high-altitude wines

See also

Versatility of Vermentino: top dry white picks from across Italy

European wine weekends for 2021: four great short breaks planned

Southern Italy: The 12 native grapes to know about

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