Familiarizing yourself with different wine regions from around the world may help you recognize grape varieties and what sets them apart in every country. Here we have the top ten wine producing countries and their regions that have made them a star.
Known for its superior red wines, the Bordeaux region of France has made wine for 2,000 years and is home to 10,000 producers. Dominating in mainly Merlot vineyards, the region is also famous for its Cabernet Sauvignon and Cab Franc; the popular Bordeaux Blend is a combination of these three favourite varieties. The Atlantic Ocean combined with the Dordogne and Garonne River provide a humid climate that spreads through the 54 different appellations which together equal 297,000 acres of vineyards. St-Emillion and Margaux are among the recognized sub-regions that make Bordeaux the largest region in France.
Treat yourself to the 2009 Chateau Domeyne St. Estèphe | Cab Sauv | $46.00
We all know that Italy is shaped like a boot. What you may not know is that held within its “heel” is the highest wine production region of Italy, Puglia. English-speakers may recognize the region as Apulia and it accounts for 17% of Italian wine. The production of the unique Puglian grapes, Negroamaro and Primitivo (twin to the Californian Zinfandel) make up 61% of vineyards. The region’s Mediterranean climate consists of persistent sunshine and calming sea breezes that feed the vines and create perfect growing conditions. Puglia also manufactures 50% of Italy’s olives and olive oil.
If you enjoy quality for price try the 2007 Candido Devinis IGT | Primitivo | $18.99
With 14,000 vineyards and 140 wineries, the Rioja region is able to pump out 250 million litres of wine annually that we all get to share! A friend of red wines (85% of production), Tempranillo, Garnacha Tinta, Graciano and Mazuelo are the four main varieties grown in the area. Previously known for their long-term aging, Rioja wineries have established methods to make wine ready to drink sooner and clarify their reserves from “Crianza” to “Gran Reserve” depending on their time spent in Oak casks. The characteristics of aging and oak are very recognizable in Rioja wine.
We just sold out of our 2010 Bodegas Altanza Capitoso | Tempranillo | $20.00
A youngster in wine production in comparison to its European successors, Napa Valley, California has become highly reputable in the last 50 years. With 14 sub-appellations in 48 km, Napa Valley has produced fine quality Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Merlot. In 1976, during a blind judgment in Paris, a Napa Valley Cabernet beat out a Bordeaux and Burgundy wine, giving the region a giant push in recognition. Protected by the Mayacamas and Vaca Mountains, the 400 wineries owned and operated mainly by families are becoming masters of viticulture.
* In our WineCollective store, try the 2010 Yosemite View Cabernet | $18.00
Home to the world’s highest vineyards, Mendoza produces 2/3rds of Argentina’s fine wine. Within the eastern foothills of the Andes Mountains, the region succeeds in growing a variety of grapes 2,500-5,000 feet above sea level. More than a quarter of plantings in the area are the pink-skinned varieties of Criolla Grande and Cerez. However, Malbec is the region’s most produced wine; followed by Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo and Chardonnay.
* On sale now at WineCollective 2011 Pascual Toso Reserve | Cab Sauv | $18.90
Barossa is nestled within hills of the south and is Australia’s oldest wine region, made up of two valleys: Eden and Barossa. 56 km from the city of Adelaide, German settlers planted vines in the 1840’s and influenced the region unlike others in the country founded by the British. Besides their signature Shiraz grape in Barossa Valley, the Eden Valley produces plenty of Riesling (the Germans were here), Semillon and Chardonnay. The hot climate of Barossa allows grapes to ripen quickly, creating wines high in sugar with low acidity.
Always creating quality wines try 2009 Peter Lehmann VSV 1885 Shiraz | $34.51
Although it is only the third largest production region of Germany, Mosel is definitely the most prestigious. Famous for its steep slopes, the area is mechanically impractical and needs the expertise of manpower to weave within its incline. The slopes make for optimal exposure to the sun and heat is also reflected from the Mosel River below, making up for the cool temperatures. Without top soil, broken slate creates a unique means for growth of the Riesling grapes, known for their light and crisp flavours, low alcohol content and high acidity.
WineCollective staff loved the 2012 Clean Slate Riesling | $16.00
The large geographical unit of Western Cape is separated into districts dependent on political boundaries and then further, wards based on terroir differences. Containing the majority of South Africa’s wineries, Western Cape stretches from Cape Town to the Olifants River in the north and eastern Mossel Bay. Shiraz, Pinotage, Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc are protected within the mountain ranges, giving soft breezes to vineyards that later create well-known fresh wines. South Africa’s oldest estate in Constania was founded in the 1600’s, leading the nation into hundreds of years of wine making.
Enjoy the 2008 Lammershoek | Chenin Blanc | $24.77
Surrounding Chile’s capital of Santiago, the Maipo Valley is praised for its world-class Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnays. The region is separated into three sections: Alto Maipo (2,600 feet above sea level), Central Maipo (the warmest area) and Pacific (influenced by the Pacific Ocean, and experimental with Sauvignon Blanc). Within these three districts and apart from their powerful varieties, Carmenere grapes are increasing annually and becoming Chile’s icon. Although low rainfall is to be expected for the wineries within the valley, winemaking has taken place here since the 16th century.
We recommend a 2008 Viña Tarapaca Grand Reserva | Cab Franc & Cab Sauv | $30.54
The Douro River running from Spain through to western Portugal’s Porto (Oporto) is home to the creation of Port. This exclusive wine has been cultivated in the Douro region for 2,000 years and while other nations attempt it, they can never truly re-create Portugal’s signature. Hilly and mountainous, the area grows varieties specific to Portugal such as Tinta Roris, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Barroca and Tinto Cao. Apart from Port, the Douro Valley also creates table wines using the same grape varieties that are becoming increasingly popular.
Expand your palette with the 2005 Quinta de Fronteira | Touriga Nacional | $21.00
Who knows, maybe one day you will get to embark on a wine tour in France or travel down under and see what the Barossa Valley has to offer. Until then, while enjoying your glass of a favourite vintage, you can not only grasp its flavour but an entire appreciation from the beautiful vineyards it came from.