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Competition seeks to underline benefits of high-altitude ageing

A group of top wine journalists will be assembling at some of Europe's best, and highest, ski resorts this weekend - strictly for oenological purposes.

Michel Bettane, France’s premier wine writer, will preside over a group of journalists, scientists and oenologists, brought together at Val Thorens, France, to test and compare the effects of altitude on ageing fine wine.

The wines come from Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, the Rhône Valley, Provence, Madiran and Savoie. An example of each has been cellared at Val Thorens (pictured) – at 2,300m, Europe’s highest ski resort – and Saint-Martin de Belleville (1,500m) and will be compared to the same wine cellared in the château.

The wines will be tasted over three stages, the first at Moûtiers (400m), then at Saint-Martin de Belleville and finally in Val Thorens.

The tasting is part of a competition called Les Grands Vins aux Sommets (Great Wines at the Peaks), which is now in its second year.

In 2004 the competition found that altitude-aged wines were finer and had more elegant aromas than their sea-level counterparts. The high-altitude reds also had softer tannins and were more elegant.

There is currently 110cm of snow at Val Thorens – 150cm on the higher slopes. Skiing conditions are good.

Picture credit : G. Mirande – Agence Basile, Office de Tourisme de Val Thorens

Written by Oliver Styles

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