It’s fairly easy to rattle off a list of iconic wine regions. There’s France’s Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne, America’s Napa Valley and Italy’s Tuscany. New Zealand’s Marlborough is known for its fantastic sauvignon blanc. Closer to home, the Barossa Valley and Margaret River have also made names for themselves both here and overseas.
The European wine-producing countries have a huge and varied history, first planting their vines thousands of years ago. Hardworking men would tend to the vines, press the fruit and produce wines with characteristics and tastes that would go on to define their land.
Now, new world wine producing countries are fighting to establish themselves as household names. Some have managed this exceptionally well, while others have been left behind.
It can be difficult for excellent wineries from less famed areas to get their wines out there when so many people reach for the bottles from areas they know and love.
Thankfully, many wine distributors are beginning to take some risks and branch out.
Here are some of the truly up-and-coming wine regions of the world to look out for next time you’re looking for something a bit different.
When it comes to quality wine, England is probably not the first country to come to mind. For centuries, the English were fully committed to drinking wine rather than producing it.
The small amount of wine England did produce was often met with snide comments, particularly from the French.
Something interesting has happened over the last decade though.
Increasing average temperatures and some Austrian inspiration have helped place Southern England firmly on the wine map.
English white wines have now won awards around the world for their steely minerality, crispness and acidity. Their world-class sparkling wine has even beat major Champagne houses in competitions, earning well-deserved recognition across the globe.
As vineyards in Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales grow ever hotter, creating increasingly difficult conditions for grape growing, winemakers are looking further south for cooler climates.
Luckily, Tasmania has the answer. This stunning Australian island enjoys an up-and-coming global reputation as a leading producer of premium cool climate wines, winning high praise and accolades from wine lovers and critics.
While the region currently produces top-notch pinot noir, sparkling and chardonnay, this will change over time as Tasmania’s climate comes to more resemble its mainland neighbours, which could be conducive to shiraz and vermentino.
Chile has always had a reputation for dense cabernets and grassy sauvignon blancs, thanks to the hot days and cool evenings. But over the past 15 years Chile has doubled its wine output.
Now, winemakers are heading south, to areas such as La Union that used to be too cold and wet to grow wine grapes, in an effort to beat the heat. Here, small, independent producers with family owned vineyards are exploring low-intervention winemaking, and the results have been spectacular.
Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
The Bekaa Valley wine region is one of the oldest in the world, with a wine-making tradition that is said to span seven millennia.
The first vineyard was planted in 1857, with plants brought from France via the colonies in Algeria.
At that time, Sharia law condemned the production or consumption of wine outside of religious purposes, so production was very subdued. It wasn’t until the French took control of the country after World War One that the Bekaa Valley found its feet. Today, more than 90 per cent of all of the wine made in Lebanon is produced here.
Look out for deliciously floral and aromatic white wines, such as the viogniers, made here.
Moravia, Czech Republic
When we think of the Czech Republic, wine isn’t the first drink that typically comes to mind. In fact, more beer is drunk there per capita than in any other country worldwide.
However, the beautiful, forested region of Moravia has a wine culture that stretches back several hundred years.
Moravia accounts for around 96 per cent of the country’s vineyards, which is why Czech wine is more often referred to as Moravian wine. According to awards received, the region produces some of the finest wines to ever come out of central Europe.
Production centres on local grape varieties, but there has been an increase in the production of established international strains such as cabernet sauvignon.
The region also produces wonderful pinot noir wines, celebrated for their smoothness and balance.
Have you tried wine from any of these up-and-coming regions? Why not share your favourite wine in the comments section below?
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