The Wine Region B-side

Wine

24/11/2016

The world of winegrowing extends beyond France, Italy, Spain, Germany and Chile. This is why we want to take you on a fascinating journey to the B-side of wine regions, specifically to three wine-producing countries that might surprise you:

1. LEBANON. Potent wines for particular palates

We begin in a very dry wine region, which so far is completely free of grapevine diseases. This is one of the hottest wine-producing areas in the world with over 300 days of sun per year.

The most renowned representative of eastern Mediterranean wine is Chateau Musar (Cabernet, Cinsault and Carignan). It is an exception to the rule. This internationally renowned Lebanese red is a metaphor in a bottle, symbolizing the very best the country has to offer: it is akin to a brawny Priorat, an ultra-expressive Bordeaux, and can be cellared for an eternity.

The hot Bekkaa Valley is the country's best-known wine-producing region. Here varieties that can easily adapt to warm climates—like Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Carignan, Cinsault—thrive vigorously.

But like all Mediterranean countries, Lebanon also has its fair share of contrasts. In the mountains north of Zahlé, the vines grow at over one thousand meters above sea level. This allows for the production of fresher wines that stoically carry the intense flavors born of extreme heat.

However, most Lebanese wines—like their counterparts from other hot regions (Cyprus, Greece or Turkey)—can be a bit too potent for many wine lovers. The depth and intensity of the country's reds are staggering. Give them a try by tasting wines from the driest areas in the country, such as Baalbek or Hermel.

 

2. BRAZIL. Italian heritage

Brazil is hip, no doubt about it. The country is establishing itself as one of the most creative and avant-garde forces in gastronomy. Brazilian cuisine is rooted in the country's vast natural riches and especially in its many varied influences, including Japanese, Portuguese and Italian.

This cross-cultural encounter is also present in the production of still and sparkling wines. Steeped in Italian heritage, Brazil's viticulture is centered almost exclusively (in terms of volume) in the state of Rio Grande do Sul.

Italians from Trentino and Veneto introduced grapevines to this enormous region, and today it is the country's only recognized GI (geographical indication). Given the lack of indigenous varieties, the region mostly grows Cabernet, Tannat, Chardonnay and Merlot.

It is worth noting, however, that the main producers have moved south to the Campanha region (also known as Fronteira), which sits on the border with Uruguay. Recently a few Portuguese varieties joined the classic international grapes, and all have done very well in the region's dryer climate and less fertile soils.

 

3. UNITED KINGDOM (ENGLAND AND WALES). A kinship with Champagne

Imagining grey Britain as a wine-producing region isn't easy. However, the isles are among the countries with the highest number of internationally acclaimed wine writers, sommeliers and critics.

This shouldn't come as a surprise, given the country's history. During the High Middle Ages, the country boasted vast and thriving monastic vineyards. This was the case until Bordeaux joined the British Empire as a result of Leonor of Aquitaine's marriage to Henry II. The peculiarities of royalty...

Nowadays, England and Wales are home to dry white wines (they make up almost 80% of total production) and sparkling wines. Combined, the two countries have over 1500 hectares under vine, mainly in the southeastern counties of Kent, East and West Sussex and Surrey.

The characteristic varieties of the English vineyard are Seyval Blanc, Reichensteiner, Müller-Thurgau and Bacchus (whites) and red varieties like Dornfelder and Rondo. The latter two produce decent wines, but leave much room for improvement.

England also produces excellent Champagne-inspired sparkling wines, which means that Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are also widely cultivated.

 

Categorías: Wine