Little Known Wine Regions
It doesn’t take a lot of research to know that the top wine regions in the world are located in France, Italy, Spain, parts of the U.S., Australia, and now Chile and New Zealand. I’m sure that there are a few others that can be counted among the top wine producers in the world but that isn’t the point of this article. The point is that whether it is a result of better growing practices and exported knowledge of these practices to new regions of the world, or better climatic conditions due to global warming the fact remains that there are a number of unlikely wine growing regions around the world that are now producing some terrific wine.
I’m sure that you are already comfortable with your oak-aged French chardonnay, that wonderful Pinot Noir from California’s Russian River Valley and the can’t be mistaken character from a rich Italian Tuscan. No one is trying to lure you away from wines and wine growing regions that have already proved themselves and won a place in your wine cellar. However, given the fact that the economy is still sucking wind and many wine lovers have been forced to either curtail their habit (heaven forbid) or find less expensive, palatable wine, there are a lot of good reasons to explore wines from regions that you may never have considered were it not for this article and a somewhat lighter wallet – and that’s a good thing. There’s nothing wrong with shopping for a bargain especially when that bargain turns out to be a lot more than just a less expensive, less satisfying alternative.
Outside of Napa, and Burgundy, and Asti, and Tuscanny etc., there are several newcomers onto the wine growing scene that you might want to take note of and a closer look into before you restock your wine cellar. Some of these regions are growing wine grapes for the first time while others have been doing so for as long as there has been soil and rainfall in their backyards. Its just that no one else really knew about it but them. You have to wonder if they’ve kept it such a secret because they never wanted to share the fruits, and juice, of their labor?
Here are a few of these regions that we can say are well worth a further look and a tasting or two of their finest vintages:
Canada – Believe it or not, Canada has always produced some quality wines and that tradition is continuing and growing. It comes as no surprise to anyone in the region because the Finger Lakes region of New York isn’t too far away from Canada and both enjoy similar weather (those areas of Canada close to NYS that is). Long known for its icewines, meads and cider Canadian growers and vintners have perfected the process of making the sweet, slightly acid dessert wine known as icewine. Inniskillin Winery, with two locations in Okanagan and Niagara, offer a full collection of fine Canadian wines, including icewine.
Israel – Wine making is nothing new to Israel but there was quite a long period of time between their most prolific time as world class wine makers in the ancient world and today. But ancient history is just that because the real news is that wines from Israel are gaining worldwide popularity because of their quality and value. Israel was long thought to be much too hot and dry to grow quality grapes but using the same methods that turned deserts into rich fields, Israel is also able to grow bountiful harvests of grapes for their wine making industry. Using imported French varieties first introduced to Israel by Baron Edmond de Rothschild, Israeli wine makers have good stock to base their growing wine production. The biggest wine exporters in Israel are Carmel and Golan Heights Winery. Their best offerings are their red wines, especially their Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc among their best whites, especially for export.
India – There are several regions of India that have ideal climates for growing grapes and have been doing so for quite a while, however these grapes were always for consumption and not wine making. All the pieces are in place for converting these regions to wine growing centers and there have been several savvy entrepreneurs that have seen the upside in investing in India’s potential as a wine producing country. The demographics of the Indian population continues to change with many more Indians coming of age to drink alcohol and many more of them now more open to the consumption of wine. While there have been several fits and starts to the Indian Wine industry there remains a strong movement to get this industry off the ground. The Nashik region of India is one of the most popular wine regions in the country with Mountain View Winery producing some very drinkable Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Symphany.
Croatia - wine making also has a long and storied history in this part of the world with the first Greek settlers introducing grape vines to the Croatian coastal region as far back as 500 b.c. Fast-forward to the present day and Croatia boasts a full bounty of wines, many of the better quality vintages exported out of the country. There are more than 300 wine regions in Croatia, which is impressive considering the size of the country. Most Croatian wines are white varieties with just 1/3 of their output being red wines. The Blue Danube Wine Company has some nice Croatian wines with its Coronica Malvasia 2011 considered a benchmark example of Croatian white wine.
Change is Good
Change is especially good if it results in you discovering a terrific wine that no one in your development or office has ever tried or even heard of before you poured them a glass. Of course your search into lesser-known wine growers and growing regions can result is your sampling some pretty poor quality wine. So what of it? It’s all part of developing a palate that does indeed know the difference between good and great and between eh…and hmm. And when it comes to wine, the most important judge of all is your taste not how much damage a bottle of wine does to your wallet.
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