Here groweth the grape
Europe is still the heart of the wine world with France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Germany producing traditional wines defined and classified by...
Europe is still the heart of the wine world with France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Germany producing traditional wines defined and classified by regions. Though these are the most recognised regions, winemaking has now spread to all other continents including Asia. Here is a cheat sheet of a few quality wine regions with names of their most renowned wines.
From the old world
Centuries have gone into perfecting the art here in these old-world countries where grape wine names are generally not mentioned on the label and you need to be aware about the grapes allowed here. For example, Champagne, a GI or Geographical Indicated Region could use three main grapes Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier to produce its wines.
This French region is mainly for sparkling wines produced traditionally using a second fermentation in the bottle. Similarly, other regions also have grapes defined for their regions based on the soil, the climate and the styles.
High quality Sauvignon Blanc comes from Sancerre in France, great Rieslings from the Mosel valley in Germany, Wachau in Austria and Alsace in France.
The best Chardonnays are produced in the Burgundy region and some cooler regions of Italy and Austria. Some of the world’s greatest Pinot Noirs are produced in Burgundy. Long lived reds are made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in Bordeaux, from Syrah and Grenache in Southern France and from Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon in Tuscany, Italy. Excellent reds are also made in many regions like Rioja in Spain, Chianti and Barolo in Italy, Porto in Portugal.
Outstanding age-worthy sweet wines are made in Sauternes in France, Rheingau in Germany, Tokaj-Hegyalja in Hungary and Neusiedlersee in Austria. The list of excellent wine producing regions is endless with each producing very distinct and typical wines from the region.
The new wine production centres
Wine production has started less than 50 years ago in these countries and most of the wines are made by standard scientific protocols. Some of the famous wine regions with the grape varieties are listed. In South America, Argentina produces some of the world’s best Malbecs along with some super Cabernet Sauvignons. Chile is famous for excellent wines from Sauvignon Blanc and also from Cabernet Sauvignon. In the US, California is renowned for its Napa Cabernet Sauvignons, Pinot Noirs from cool regions like Sonoma Coast, Zinfandel from Lodi and Sauvignon Blancs from Russian River Valley.
Oregon produces some outstanding Pinot Noirs. South African Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc are quite exceptional. High quality reds from Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinotage are in abundance here. Lebanon makes some high-quality Bordeaux style red blends, while England now makes some super excellent sparkling wines rivalling Champagne. Australia produces some great Shirazes from the South of Australia, long-lived Semillons from Hunter Valley and stupendous Cabernet Sauvignon from Western Australia. The country is also famous for its Rutherford sweet fortified wines or “stickies”. New Zealand is famous for its wonderful Sauvignon Blancs but now produces some admirable Pinot Noirs and Shiraz too. Japan produces some excellent wines from Koshu, while India, Thailand and China are still working with many grape varietals including Shiraz, Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc that make distinctive wines here.
Vineyards in India
The biggest wine producing region in the country is currently Nashik and accounts for the majority of wine produced. The areas of Solapur and Northern Karnataka are also big contributors as is Bengaluru. There are vineyards in Sangli, Ratlam and Tamil Nadu too.
Feeling Lost? Fret no more!
Remembering names of grapes and wine regions could be challenging, especially when you need to pick a wine at the shop. Thanks to technology, now there are many mobile applications which offer review of wines after scanning the label. It can tell you details about the wine, the style and the price. This is a handy tool considering the large number of wines available. The labels will further inform you. Try different wines and learn more about the varied regions to make your own wine list. It will surely give you a reason to travel to some of these beautiful wine spots.
Ajoy Shaw - The writer is an Independent Consultant Winemaker and Wine Professional. He is also the consultant for Hyderabad-based Asav Wines