Does "mountain red" mean anything specific?
I was watching an old Julia Child episode on DVD, and she recommended "a nice California mountain red" with one dish. The name Almaden immediately came to mind, but I had always figured "mountain" was part of the producer's name, rather than a specific type of wine.
A tale of two wines:
"Almadén California Mountain Red Burgundy" and "Louis M. Martini California Mountain Burgundy" -- what's the difference?
It depends upon punctuation -- or, in this case, upon which line the word "Mountain" appears:
Brand Name: Almadén
Wine Name: Mountain Red Burgundy
Brand Name: Louis M. Martini
Appellation: California Mountain
Wine Name: Burgundy
In the former case, "Mountain" was a meaningless designation, a part of the wine name; in the latter case, the word "Mountain" meant the grapes came from vineyards NOT on the valley floor, but higher in elevation.
There is no doubt than "mountain" vineyards produce distinctively different grapes, and thus wines, than those same grape varieties when planted on the valley floor -- this is true for the Napa Valley as well as the Central Valley.
Louis M. Martini had vineyards in the Mayacamas Mountains that straddled the county line between Napa and Sonoma, and therefore produced wines like Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel with a "California Mountain" appellation.
Almadén's Mountain Red Brugundy (along with their Mountain Claret, Mountain White Chablis, Mountain Rhine, Mountain Grenache Rosé, and Mountain Nectar Rosé) came from Central Valley and Santa Crlara Valley grapes -- nothing "mountain" about their origin at all.
In the 1970s, Louis M. Martini filed a complaint with the ATF (the governement agency regulating wine labeling) about Alamdén's use of the term "Mountain," claiming they were debasing a meaningful geographic term. Long story short: ATF ruled in Almadén's favor -- and they could still use the word "Mountain" on they labels for Central Valley wine, while Louis M. Martini, who was using grapes grown in mountain vineyards, had to remove the term from all of their labels . . .
After a similar reference, on my first tour of Burgundy, I kept looking for something with "Hearty" in its name... No, not really.
In the stated instance, I'd wager that she was talking about a "rustic" red. Most of the Zins of her day and many of the Cabs were of a "rustic" nature, in lieu of some of the more refined reds, of say the old Inglenook, BV and a few others.
If you are trying to replicate a recipe from her, and from her time, I'd look to maybe an IT Primativo (most say the same grape as Zin, but who knows which is the father and which is the proginy).
Pure speculation, on my part,
Mountain has no specific meaning in the wine world, but there is a definite flavor to wines grown at higher elevations. To prove the point, there is the Medocino Ridge appellation which are several mountain peaks above 1200'. because of this 1200' qualification, it is the only non contiguous appellation in the country.
Hess is up there on Mt Veeder. Outpost on Howell Mtn is great, and Reverie and Diamond Mountain are good Diamond Mtn wines.
re: NY Wine Guy
re: NY Wine Guy
There are several AVAs with the word "Mountain" as a part of the name. As Ed Dibble quite rightly points out, there is the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA -- the first "mountain" AVA approved by the ATF. In addition, there is the Ben Lomond Mtn sub-appellation of the SC Mtns. AVA.
Within the larger Napa Valley AVA are several sub-AVAs that include the term "mountain." In addtion to the Mount Veeder, Howell Mountain, and Diamond Mountain District AVAs, there is also the Spring Mountain District AVA and the Atlas Peak AVA.
Within Sonoma County is the Sonoma Mountain AVA. Mount Harlan AVA is within San Benito Co., York Mountain AVA is in SLO, and of course the Sierra Foothills AVA includes a wide range of elevations, with some vineyards as high as 3,500'.
And that only covers California -- and not all of California at that.
To get really confusing, there actually is a Red Mountain AVA in WAshington State!
"MOUNTAIN: Labels carrying this term are often attached to wines of lowly jug-wine quality. Most come from grapes grown in the flattest and hottest areas of California, where mountains are seen only on clear days." -*The New Connoisseur's Handbook of California Wines* (2nd edition)