Argentina has proved to be one of the best and most surprising wine countries in South America and it is the biggest wine producer there. A country of high altitude, where the Malbec grape variety has found a perfect home in the foothills of the Andes mountain range. The production and consumption of wines in the country goes back to the beginning of the 16th century when the first vines of Vitis vinifera were transported to America by Spanish colonisers and later Italian immigrants. <br><br> The modern production of wines in Argentina has begun in early 1990 and before that the wines were sold and consumed within the country and now it is competing on the international markets among the best countries like France, Italy, Spain and the United States. Most viticulture in Argentina takes place in Mendoza, where desert landscapes and high altitudes connect to make a terroir that provides aromatic and intensely flavoured red wines. It is considered to be the best quality wine-producing region with soils which are typically poor, desert-like with dusty earth. High elevation viticulture is the standard, with vineyards located between 800 metres and 1100 metres above sea level. <br><br> The rest of the most famous wine-growing regions are Salta and San Juan. In Salta wine region is found the highest vineyard in the world, with the amazing 3000 meters above sea level. In terms of grape varieties, of course, the Malbec is almost three-quarters of Argentinian wine production that takes place in Mendoza, followed by Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Bonarda, also called Douce Noir. Argentina's white wine star is the Torrontés grape which produces floral, light and crisp wines. Overall the country has managed during the past 10 to 15 years to make a dramatic improvement in quality with results in very interesting and exciting wines.<br><br> Argentina is one of the most important wine producing countries in the New World and the largest producer of wine in South America with Mendoza its main wine region. Mendoza, is a vast and varied region, producing some seriously high quality wines due to the vineyards’ high altitude, mainly using Malbec, still the flagship grape, but more and more grapes being planted and used. <br><br> Over 70% of Argentinian wines come from Mendoza, due to its position, with the Andes protecting the region from the clouds and ensuring irrigation in the hot season with snow melting water. Other regions are, further north, San Juan which is the second most important region, Salta which is also home to the highest vineyards in the world, Donald Hess's Colomé has some vines at of over 3,000 m asl, and Catamarca. Other wine producing regions in the south, closer to the Atlantic coast, are Rio Negro and Neuquen. <br><br> Over the past 20 years, Argentinean wines have slowly raised their bar and now quality is the driver and this approach has allowed Argentina to become a major player in the wine world, not only exporting its wine all over the world, but also becoming one of main wine making country in the world. <br><br> For more information about Argentinean wines visit the <a href=" http://www.winesofargentina.org/argentina/regiones/" target="_blank">Wines of Argentina</a> website.
Australia is the sixth biggest wine country in terms of production with immense potential for much more and it is one of the biggest wine exporting nations. Known as one of the leading New World wine countries Australia wine history is not new at all, it goes back to 1825 when James Busby considered the father of the Australian viticulture has established a farm in Hunter Valley, which is currently one of the best wine regions of the country. He was the one who has been gathering knowledge in France and has brought the Syrah grape variety, which later has been called Shiraz, and has become a benchmark for the Australian winemaking. <br><br> Australia is a vast country with various climate and geographical conditions which are making it one of the most versatile wine-growing countries in the world. The climate is very hot and dry affected by its southerly latitude, but regional features such as altitude and proximity to the oceans can also play a significant role. The country has six major wine areas (South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania and Queensland) with 45 wine zones and 70 wine regions called Geographical Indications within the zones.<br><br> The Australian wine authorities have built very easy and comprehensive labelling system, for example, if the year is mentioned on the label 85% must come from the same vintage, or if a region is specified, 85% of the wine must come from the same region. The laws are leaving big freedom for the producers in terms of grape varieties, pruning, upbringing method, alcohol content or wine style due to the lack of restrictions that characterise European wine making, only cultivation zones are specified. <br><br> Australia's major grape varieties are Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Merlot, Grenache and Mourvèdre. The blockbuster Shiraz is planted almost everywhere in the country, but the best expression is found in magnificent Barrosa Valley and high altitude Eden Valley in South Australia as well world-famous elegant Riesling boasts the Clare Valley. An interesting fact is that Australia has never had phylloxera disease and all vines are ungrafted, which makes the Australian vines one of the oldest in the world. <br><br> Australia is one of the world's largest wine producer with approximately 60% of it being exported. Wine is produced in every Australian state, with more than 60 designated wine regions, however the main regions are in the southern, cooler parts of the country, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania and Queensland. <br><br> In general, better wines are made from smaller and cooler-climate regions and the wines are often labeled with the name of the grape variety, which must constitute at least 85 percent of the wine, easier for consumers to understand compared to Old World wines, with many regions called geographic indications being protected. <br><br> Check the <a href=" https://www.wineaustralia.com/" target="_blank">Wine Australia</a> website for more information.
Barolo is a hilly village situated in Piedmont, northwestern Italy. The Barolo wine area covers several small villages near the town of Alba. The soils and micro climates vary between them, creating differences between the different wines produced but despite their differences, they all possess the main characteristics of a Barolo wine, tar and roses aroma, firm tannins, high acidity and alcohol. Due to their differences, there are area that are considered “cru”, and these are Cannubi, Sarmazza, Brunate, Cerequio, Rocche, Monprivato, Villero, Lazzarito, Vigna Rionda, Bussia, Ginestra and Santo Stefano di Perno.
California is the birthplace of the viticulture in the United States, the largest and most important wine region in the country. In the 16th century, Spanish missionaries have planted vines in Mexico and shortly after that in 1769, the Franciscan monk Junipero Serra has established the Mission "San Diego" in California where he planted the first vine in the United States.<br> <br> California is a huge country with its 1300 km alongside the west coast of the country and varied topography and climate. The modern history of the region has begun in 1976, after the notable Paris Judgment, where top wines from Burgundy and Bordeaux were blind-tasted alongside top wines from California. The result was several of the American wines rated higher than the French wines by a mainly French jury, competition that gave wines of California a big boost and popularity in Europe. <br><br> The climate in California varies immensely as well as the soil types which is more diverse than in any other wine-growing region in the world. The climate in the region is so complex that five separate zones based on a temperature system between April and October needed to be created. A specific climate event occurs alongside the whole Californian pacific coast, the heat of the sun is considerably softened by the cool winds and fog of the Pacific Ocean and between April and September when there is hardly any rainfall, making the need for many vineyards to be artificially irrigated. <br><br> The laws in the region are quite simple and not so restrictive like in Europe, as the addition of aromatic oak extracts and various aromatic substances are permitted. A varietal wine must be made at least 75% of the grape specified on the label, and if it is stated one of the five counties on the label 75% of the grapes must come from the same one. If the <b>AVA</b> (American Viticultural Area) is written on the label, 85% of the grapes must come from the same AVA, and if a specific vineyard is named, 95% of the grape must come from it. <br><br> There are 5 main wine regions/districts including North Coast, Central Coast, Inland Valles, Sierra Foothills and Southern California. These 5 districts are separated in counties, which are consisted of AVAs. The main grape varieties of California are Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, by far the most planted, followed by Merlot, Pinot Noir, Colombard, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chenin Blanc, Riesling, Barbera, Garnacha and many more. <br><br>Nowadays, California is home to some of the largest wineries and wine companies in the world, and it is also home to a number of boutique wineries, some of which attract ridiculous prices for their cult wines. California produces 90% of the total wine production of the USA. California also produces a considerable amount of Sparkling wine and many French Champagne houses have established wineries there. Overall, the region is one of the fastest-growing and most surprising in the world, due to its climate and topography, as well as its liberal wine laws.
Czech wines goes back a long way, they date back to the Romans and have accompanied the main country’s events but only 1995 the wine became a serious subject with the Wine Act that made the EU wine regulation part of the Czech law. Thanks to the adoption of the EU wine regulation, Czech wineries were modernised and quality became a paramount.<br><br> The wine in Czech Republic is produced mainly in Moravia, it accounts for more than 95% of the total planted area, the other region with the remaining vineyards is Bohemia. Due to the almost total production coming from vineyards located in Moravia, Czech wine is also referred to as Moravian wine. <br><br> Czech wine is mainly white wine, from Riesling to Muller Thurgau to Gruner with some outstanding example. Red grapes and wines, on the other side, occupy a smaller space and includes together with native grapes Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon and thanks to climate change, red wines production keep increasing on year by year.
Grapes cultivation has ancient origins in Franciacorta, as testified by classical authors such as Pliny, Columella and Virgil and the first appearance of the name “Franzacurta” can be traced to the 1277 when Franzacurta or Franzia Curta was an important center for the production of wine for nearby towns and villages. Franciacorta lies in the heart of Lombardy and is made by gently sloped hills enclosed by the Oglio river and the Alps and the morainic origin of the area provide the soil with an extraordinarily rich mineral content that characterise every bottle of Franciacorta and it approximately 130 square miles. For more information visit the Franciacorta consortium <a href=" https://www.franciacorta.net/en" target="_blank"> website</a>.
German wine has changed and improved dramatically in the last 30 years. German wine makers have moved away from producing bland, cheap wine to producing some of the best wines, especially white, mainly using Riesling, Gemany main grape. <br><br> But Germany is now more than white wine, due to climate change and warmer summers, red grapes such a Pinot Noir, known here as Spätburgunder, but also Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon can fully ripe, unthinkable before, and the production increases year by year. Nowadays, Germany wineries are represented by small, family owned wineries that have managed to give German wines prestige and quality. <br><br> The wine regions in Germany are classified according to the quality of wine produced and are 13, with most of them located in the western part of the country. Amongst the wine regions, Mosel is the third largest in terms of production but possibly the leading region in terms of prestige and it is mainly associated with Riesling. <br><br> When you think about Germany everything speaks Riesling, one of the oldest producers with arguably the best and long-lived fine white wines in the world. The wine culture of the country is over two thousand years old, and archaeological found proof that a Greek wine bottle made of clay from around 400 BC was discovered in a Celtic grave. The oldest vineyards were on the banks of the Rhine and Mosel Rivers, where today is the Kingdom of the Riesling. <br><br>The German wine-growing regions are some of the most northerly situated in the world, and the wines are all born around rivers, mainly the Rhine and Mosel, often protected by mountains. The rivers have important microclimate effects which are moderating the temperature of the vineyards. The soil is composed of slate in the steep valleys to absorb the sun's heat and hold it over the night. The best vineyards and parcels are often extremely steep, so they can receive the most sunlight and of course, they are difficult to harvest mechanically. The slopes are often also positioned facing the south or south-west to point towards the sun. The most significant wine regions are - Mosel, Rheingau, Ahr, Württemberg, Pfalz, Baden, Nahe, Franken and Rheinhessen. <br><br>The Germans have a little complicated classification system for the normal consumer, which they try to simplify over the past 30 years. The first category is called <b>Tafelwein</b> (table wine), the second is <b>Landwein</b> (country wine), the third is <b>Qualitätswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete</b> (QbA) wines from a defined appellation, which can be blended from several regions and still be classified as <b>Qualitätswein</b>(quality wine) and the best category is <b>Qualitätswein mit Prädikat</b> (QmP) wines that are made from grapes of higher ripeness. And there are sub-categories within which are called Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese and Eiswein. <br><br>There are around 140 permitted grape varieties, but just half dozen of them are important for the modern wine production with significant fame is the Riesling, documented first in 1435 in Rheingau region and later found in Mosel and considered as a superior grape in the whole Germany. The Spätburgunder is the second grape variety with great importance for the country, which is the name for Pinot Noir in German. Other notable grapes are the Müller-Thurgau, Scheurebe, Pinot Gris known as Grauburgunder, Pinot Blanc known as Weissburgunder, Sylvaner and from the international Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. <br><br>The German wine industry had a bad reputation up to 1960s, because of mass production of dull and too sweet wines, since 1970 has begun to gain its glory. Today they are small quality winemakers which create very special dry and sweet wines, promoting the countries long-standing traditions as one of the best white wine producers in the world.
Hungary is a historic and very old wine country with vine-growing and winemaking traditions which have been practised in what is modern Hungary since at least Roman times. <br><br> Hungary's fame is related to the Tokaj sweet wine - it is first mentioned in records in the late 15th century - although it was almost certainly dry at this time. During the 17th century is when the famous Tokaji Aszú was introduced to the court of the French king Louis XIV and has been much desired ever since from kings and tzars. For many reasons, including two world wars and communist government, Hungarian wine disappeared until recently and this is a bless for all wine lovers around the world. <br><br> Hungary is a big country situated east of Austria with a continental climate with hot summers and cold winters, and it has six major wine-growing areas which are distributed around the country. These areas have 22 wine regions from which the most prominent are Tokaj, Eger, Balaton, Villány, Szekszárd, Sopron, Nagy-Somló and Badacsony. It is a land of predominantly white wine with almost 70% of the production, and big part the rest of the 30% is going to the red Kékfrankos (Blaufränkisch), which is the base of the famous Egri Bikavér (bulls blood) wine. The popular white grapes are Cserszegi Fűzseres, Olaszrizling, Welschriesling, Furmint, Chardonnay, Mūller-Thurgau, Hárslevelű, Szürkebarát, Aletta, Irsai Olivér and some of the red grape varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zweigelt, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and Kadarka. <br><br> In 2009 fundamental changes to the Hungarian wines quality system were introduced. Hungarian wines are divided into <b>Boron</b> (Table wine), <b>OFJ</b> (Oltalom alatt álló Földrajzi Jelzés Bor= Tájbor - Country wine), <b>OEM</b> (Oltalom alatt álló Eredetmegjelölésü Bor= Minöségi Bor -Quality wine) and the last and best is <b>OEM DHC</b> (Districtus Hungaricus Controllatus) with levels DHC-Classicus and DHC-Premium. The country has overcome for the past 15 years some major changes in terms of quality, produced some outstanding wines and has set foot on the right path of becoming more recognisable and well known not only for its sweet wines from Tokaj, but also for dryer style wines. Since the late 1990s Hungary has attracted attention from foreign investors which are slowly transforming the Hungarian wine industry. <br><br> Small wineries, a new generation of wine maker and grape growers, and Hungarian wines are hitting the palates and nose of wine drinkers again.
Italy is one of the world's largest wine-producing country and one of the oldest, with regions that have produced wine as far back as the 10th Century B.C. The Italian wine culture is closely related to the Greeks, which brought their vines to the peninsula, and on the island of Sicily as well as Campania and Calabria. After that, the Phoenicians also have influenced the Romans, establishing bases in Sicily and the Mediterranean, and from the 6th century B.C. onwards, an active trade began with the Celts in Gaul from France, who imported considerable quantities of wine from Upper and Central Italy. So, the Italians have learned and brought winemaking to high art. Around the 1st century B.C the city of Pompeii was the wine trading centre and a very important supplier to Rome until its destruction by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 B.C. In the 14th century and the beginning of the Renaissance, there was a great increase in wine production and consumption, and already in 1716 under Grand Duke Cosimo III (1642-1723) from the family of the Medici in Tuscany, the zone for Chianti was established as one of the first designation of origin in Europe. In the early 19th century, wines such as Barolo, Brunello and Chianti were created with French help, and a new beginning for the Italian wine was made.<br><br> Italian soil types and the climate are characterised by great diversity. The Alps are acting as a shield against cold north winds, as the Apennines create a 1,500-kilometre long weather divide from Piedmont in the north to Sicily in the south. Both seas The Mediterranean Sea to the east and the Tyrrhenian Sea to the west have a decisive influence. The latitude is a key factor and the regions with the best temperatures between 12 and 16 °C, satisfactory snow and rainfall in winter and warm to hot summers with sunshine until late autumn are giving birth to the most distinguished wines in the country.<br><br> Italy grows about 1400 grapes varieties, mainly due to the varied topography and climate and every region, from Aosta Valley to the Sicilian islands, grows grapes and makes wine – each region has its own page – and Italian wine is famous all over the world. The most important red grape varieties are Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Barbera, Montepulciano, Corvina, Aglianico, Primitivo, white grapes are Pinot Grigio, Garganega, Trebbiano, Vermentino, Glera, Fiano, Greco. Of course, the French grape varieties are also present with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc. Actually, some of the best and most expensive wines of Italy are made from international grapes in the small region on the Tyrrhenian Sea in Tuscany called Bolgheri. <br><br> Italy has 20 wine-growing regions, but the most significant and well-known are Tuscany, Piedmont and Veneto. Each one of these regions has its flagship wines as in Tuscany there are several from Brunello di Montalcino to Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Chianti Classico. From Veneto, Prosecco and Pinot Grigio are the best sellers together wtih the highly regarded and powerful Amarone della Valpolicella. And Piedmont is the birthplace of the legendary Barolo and Barbaresco and the light and refreshing Moscato d'Asti. Not to be forgotten are the two islands Sicily and Sardinia, which are producing some very unique wines from indigenous grape varieties.<br><br> Italian wines are classified according to the Italian wine classification initially developed in 1963 that divided the wines in <b>Table wine</b>, <b>DOC</b> and <b>DOCG</b>; in 1992 the <b>IGT</b> category was added, we will post on our blog more details about the Italian Wine Classification, however, this is an out of date classification that nowadays, do not reflect the quality of Italian wine, as it was originally intended.<br><br> In 2009 the European Union published a directive, aimed at harmonising the wine classification within the different European countries, dividing the wines into Vini (Wines), Vini Varietali (Varietal Wines), Vini IGP (Wines with Protected Geographical Indication, IGT - Typical Geographical Indication) Vini DOP (Wines with Protected Designation of Origin and includes DOC, Controlled Designation of Origin, and DOCG, Controlled and Guaranteed Designation of Origin). However, Italian wines still use the old Italian system.<br><br> Blessed with so many grape varieties and abundance of Italian wine, it is better to reserve a special place in your cellar to Italian wines, because Italy continues to amaze. The new wave of winemakers in Italy brings its own level of excitement to the market. They are experimenting with non-traditional varietals, blends, and the latest technical innovations, to stretch our understanding of Italian wine.
Mendoza is undoubtedly the largest and the most prominent wine region in Argentina. Mendoza holds 75% of the total vineyards in the country and the largest number of wineries as well and one of the main wine-producing regions in the world. It is the new homeland of the French Malbec from the south, which has elevated the status of the Argentinian wines to another level. The vinicultural history of Mendoza is almost as old as the colonial history of Argentina itself with the first vines planted by priests of the Catholic Church's Jesuit order in the mid-16th Century. Back in the days, they have used agricultural techniques from the Incas and Huarpes, who had owned the land before them. Mendoza wine region has a continental climate with mild and dry weather and medium humidity, and soils with a mostly stony and calcareous upper layer of sand, clay or loam. These excellent conditions create a perfect environment for quality viticulture as well as the highly situated vineyards at an altitude of 500 to 1,200 metres above sea level. The region is divided into five large areas which are located near the rivers that provide half of the necessary water for the essential artificial irrigation of the vineyards. The best and world-renowned sub-regions in Mendoza include Maipú, San Martin, Barrancas, Carrizal, Carrodillas, Coquimbito, Santa Rosa, General Alvear, San Carlos, Tunuyán and Tupungato. The grapes which are grown are mostly international with the predominance of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Syrah, Torrontes, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Bonarda. Mendoza has developed a reputation for fine sparkling wine as well. Undoubtedly, this is one of the New World most appraised and distinguished wine regions. Mendoza has a continental climate with cold winters and warm summers and it is an ideal place for red grape varieties, with Malbec being the main one.
Moldova is an old wine-producing country located just north of Romania in the Black Sea basin, where the vine originates. <br><br>The wine history of the country is very rich with numerous archaeological finds, such as amphorae and grape seeds which are proving that viticulture has been practiced there for over 5,000 years. <br><br> Moldova is a small country which has significant wine production, and it ranks among the best Eastern European wine-growing countries. It is home as well to the largest wine cellar in the world in the Guinness Book of Records in 2005 with around 200 kilometers of tunnels dug into the limestone. The climate of Moldova is continental with cold winters and warm summers influenced by the Black Sea in the southern coastal parts of the country. The topography consists of low in altitude rolling hills around 300 meters above sea level. <br><br> The country produces notable white, sparkling and fortified wines and red wines in Bordeaux style. The most planted grapes in Moldova are the Fetească Albă, Fetească Regala, Fetească Neagră, Rara Neagră, Plavai, Saperavi, Viorica and Rkatsiteli, as well as the international grapes which are a trend in the country including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir. <br><br> Moldova has three wine-growing regions Valul lui Traian in the south-west, Stefan Voda south-east and Codru in the central part of the land. In the last decade, the country is undertaking a vast renaissance of its wine industry, giving birth to notable wines, which are already much appreciated on the international markets. Since the Association agreement with the EU in 2013, its export has been increasing steadily. The government is leading a great marketing campaign to promote Moldavian wines abroad.
Molise is a little known and small Italian region, not only from a wine point of view. Used to be one with Abruzzo, it was called Abruzzi e Molise, only in 1963 the region gained its independence and in the 1980s was granted its first DOCs, Biferno and Pentro di Isernia, followed by the Tintilia del Molise in 2011. <br><br> With only three DOCs, the majority of wine produced in Molise is bottled as IGT and the grape grown, except the native Tintilia, are native grapes from neighbouring regions, from Campania’s falanghina and Aglianico, to Abruzzo’s Montepulciano and Trebbiano to Apulia’s Bombino. <br><br> Molise due to its diverse topography, very similar to Abruzzo, with mountains and sea and hills in between, with its diverse climates together with its combination of soils, create an ideal vine growing environment. Molise’s wine production is small, accounting for less than 1% of the Italian total wine production.
New Zealand is the southernmost wine-producing country in the world located in the South Pacific Ocean, south-east from Australia. <br><br> The Island of New Zealand is one of the relatively new wine-growing areas in the world with first planted vines in Northland region from the James Busby in 1819, who is considered the father of the Australian viticulture as well. Later in 1851 in Hawkes Bay was established the first winery by French Roman Catholic missionaries, and from there until the moment the country has experienced very vivid wine development and has become major wine-producing and exporting nation. <br><br> New Zealand is divided into two islands, resulting in a climate which is quite different between the warmer North Island and the colder but sunnier South Island. The maritime climate dominates most of the country with heavy rainfall in summer and autumn and fertile volcanic soils. <br><br> Wine laws in New Zealand are pretty simple and liberal, if the grape variety is stated on the label at least 75% of the variety must be included. Winemakers are allowed to enrich, deacidification and leavening, there are no yield limitations and artificial watering is allowed without restrictions. <br><br> There are 11 Geographical Indications <b>GI</b> or wine-growing regions each with its specifications and the most prominent among them are Marlborough, Waipara, Martinborough, Hawke's Bay, Central Otago, Nelson and Gisborne. New Zealand is the land of the Sauvignon Blanc, especially from the Marlborough region, which has found second home here and offers one of the most distinctive expressions in the world. <br><br> Of course, the other white international grape varieties like Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Riesling and Viognier are thriving as well. The most planted red wine grape is the Pinot Noir, which reaches great results and it is well-known all over the world, particularly the one from the Central Otago region. Other red grapes which are used are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Syrah which produces very special wines, Tempranillo and many more. <br><br> Overall, New Zealand is a very exciting wine country offering great value for money wine with beautiful characteristics and distinctive terroir.
This region is popularly known for its red wines. With several revolutions over the years, Rioja region has witnessed a broad sylistic revolution over the years. This revolution started from the long, oak-barrel-ageing of the 19th century to the present vogue for wines made from special vineyard plots using minority varietals e.g Graciano. An outstanding success in this region is the flagship grape of Rioja, the noble Tempranillo, which is used to create delicious reds and blended with other regional grapes like Mazuelo, Garnacha Tinta, and Graciano. The Macabeo is the main white grape, often blended with Garnacha Blanca to create rich dry white wines. Food and wine lovers will be in heaven in Rioja, with soul-satisfying dishes on offer like baby lamb chops roast over grape vines, velvety bean and slightly spicy chorizo stews, sautéed vegetable “menestras” and more. Rioja in Spain, also called La Rioja, is found in the Northern part of the Iberian Peninsula, and near the Ebro river. It is known for its history of dinosaur footprint fossils and fine wines. This area of Spain, named after the river Oja, has over 500 wineries, and hosts various leisure activities such as wine tasting, hot air ballooning, and horse riding . Towns in the region are Logrono, San Millan de la Cogolla, Alfarq, Arnedo and Ecaray. Rioja is the most famous Spanish wine region in the world, situated in the northern part of the country, tracing the River Ebro from the town of Haro to Alfaro. The Rioja wine region is the central point of Spanish wine. The Flagship grape of the region for the red wines is the iconic for the country Tempranillo followed by Garnacha and for the whites Viura and Malvasía. Rioja is the very first Spanish region to be granted DO status (Denominación de Origen) in 1933 and again the first in 1991 to be upgraded to the highest level DOCa status (Deonominación de Origen Calificada). The region's winemaking traditions stretch back to Roman times and have remained almost intact ever since. The wine production prospered between 200 BC and the 6th Century AD and even back then Rioja was one of the most famous places related to wine. Since the 19th century, the Riojan wine experienced a major boost in quality and quantity, mainly because of the arrival of the Bordeaux wine merchants looking for supplies due to the devastating Phylloxera disease in France. They have given the know-how to the Spanish winemakers to blend different grape varieties which complement each other and the usage of the oak barrels, a very strong and long-lasting relationship between Rioja and Bordeaux. There are three main wine-growing sub-regions in Rioja - Rioja Alta, Rioja Oriental and Rioja Alavesa, each one of them has soil type and microclimate that is relatively different. Clay and chalky soils generally prevail in the region, and the climate is continental with slight Mediterranean influence (mainly in Rioja Oriental), generating mild temperatures and more continuous ripening process of the grapes. The Cantabrian Mountain range is very important for the climate in the region, which flank Rioja to the north and west, give shelter from cold and wet influences of the Atlantic Ocean. The region is significantly warmer and drier, because of this natural border and have soils which vary from place to place, with the finest containing higher levels of limestone.
San Juan is probably the second most important wine-growing region in Argentina after Mendoza with large plantings of Malbec and Syrah. It is situated just Nord from Mendoza in the foothills of the Andes mountain range. All vineyards are planted between 600 - 1200 m altitude, which is the standard in all neighbouring regions. The region is famous for rosé, white and red wines. San Juan region is predominantly semi-desert, and irrigation is needed and practised from the San Juan and Jachal rivers. The vineyards also rely on the meltwater flowing down from the Andes mountain range to the west. Vert typical for San Juan wine region is the Zonda wind which is a hot, dry wind that develops in the rainshadow of the Andes mountains. There are five viticultural zones including Tulum, Zonda, Ullum, Jáchal and Fértil Valley all irrigated. Other planted grape varieties of the San Juan region are Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Bonarda, Merlot and Syrah for red wines, and Torrontes, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Viognier for white wines.
South Africa is one of the most prominent wine countries from the so-called New World, although the viticulture has been established quite early in 1652 from the Dutch doctor Jan van Riebeeck who has brought the first vines from Europe. The country is the 8th biggest wine producer and boasts one of the best value for money wines. <br><br> Most of the plantings are distributed alongside the Western Cape among valleys, mountains and plateaus, which gives opportunities for a wide range of diverse wine styles. The South Africa's climate is ideal for viticulture with the proximity of the Atlantic Ocean in the west and the Indian Ocean in the east defines the “wine between two oceans”. The long sunny summer and the mild but humid winter are suitable for the most grape varieties. The cold wind from the south-east purifies the air and does not allow developing of diseases which can damage the vines. <br><br> The country has five main wine-growing regions - Cape South Coast, Coastal Region, Klein Karoo, Olifants River and Breede River Valley which are distributed into 22 districts and 64 wards (smaller wine area with special microclimate) - implemented mirroring the French system of Appelation d’origine controlee with the resulting system becoming an hybridisation of Old World wine making and the new - and the leading of them are Stellenbosch, Paarl, Constantia, Cape Point, Walker Bay and Elgin. The categorization system is quite simple with the introduction of the controlled designation of origin <b>"Wine of Origin"</b> (WO) which state least 85% of the vintage and grape variety and origin must be included in the bottle if this is stated on the label. A "single vineyard" wine must come from a defined area whilst an "Estate Wine" can come from adjacent vineyards if they are cultivated together and the wine is made on site. Lastly, a “ward” is an area with a distinctive soil type or climate. <br><br> Almost all grape varieties have been brought in the country from Europe with one of the few exceptions being the local signature red grape Pinotage, created by the crossing of Pinot Noir and Cinsaut, the other significant red grape varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah. White grape varieties account for more than half the country's total production with Chenin Blanc the most planted grape followed by Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Other white grape varieties are Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains, Cinsault, Pinot Noir, Sémillon and Colombard. <br><br> There are two historic regions of South Africa the Constantia and Stellenbosch, the first is the cradle of wine for the country gave to the world the legendary dessert wine Vin de Constance and the other region with significant importance producing great Bordeaux blended wines and Pinotage. South Africa has many specialities among which are sherry and port wine, sweet dessert wines, Chenin Blanc blended with aromatic grape varieties becoming simple, carbonated in large quantities Sparkling wine, and also sparkling wines made according to the champagne method called Method Cap Classique generated. Overall, South Africa is one of the largest producers of wine in the world and offers some of the most interesting wines in the world.
Spain is the number one country in terms of vine cultivation and one of the top 3 producers together with Italy and France in the world. It is as well, one of the oldest wine-growing countries dating back at least from 3000 B.C and very much influenced by the Romans, which is easy to believe when you look at their rich culture and traditions. Except for the Romains, the Phoenicians have had an important role too in the Spanish wine history with the foundation of the city of Gadir (Cádiz) in Andalusia around 1100 B.C and have developed lively wine trade in the Mediterranean. It was not until the beginning of the 16th century when the wine trade and the viticulture in the country have flourished due to the “conquistadores” which have brought huge quantities of wine to the recently discovered America. <br><br> Spain is a beautiful country, with history and culture where wine did and still plays an important role. The whole country produces wine, including the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands, however, the greatest concentration of vineyards is in Castilla-La Mancha, and the most famous wines come from Galicia (Rias Baixas), Catalonia (Cava and Priorat), Andalucia (Sherry), Castilla y Leon (Rueda, Toro and Ribera del Duero) and of course Rioja. <br><br> Spain is an enormous country with a big diversity of landscapes and climates, with its mountain chains playing a major role in the regional differences and a fundamental role in defining Spain's many wine styles. From mountain peaks to sunny and hot regions, each region has its own style. From light, crisp, white wines, such as Rias Baixas and particularly Txakoli produced in the north, to mid-bodied, fruit-driven reds such as Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Bierzo to heavier, more powerful reds for those regions closed to the Mediterranean. <br><br> Similarly, the topography is very diverse. The western mountain ranges are mostly composed of metamorphic and crystalline rocks and the most common soil type is slate, the same soil of the country's best vineyards. Similar soil can be found mainly on the Catalan coast, in the Priorato highlands and Rioja region. The coastal regions are dominated by light, sometimes sandy soils. Down in the most southern point of Spain, in the Jerez sherry region, the soil is strongly calcareous white Albariza. On the other hand, the Canary Islands have a volcanic type of soil. Several large river veins across the country are providing water for the vineyards and, like all waters basins, have a positive influence on viticulture. These rivers are mainly the Ebro and Duero in the north, the Guadiana in the south, the Júcar and Turia in the east, and the Tajo in the west. <br><br> There are 17 wine administrative regions made of around 130 sub-regions or DO (Denominación de Origen). The most significant for the Spanish wine production are - Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Penedés, Navarra, Rueda, Cava, Rías Baixas, Jeréz, Priorat, Toro and Bierzo. Spain has a very good classification system divided into four categories which in ascending order of quality are: <b>Vino de Mesa</b>, <b>Vino de la Tierra</b>, <b>DO</b> (Denominación de Origen) and the best <b>DOCa</b> (Denominación de Origen Calificada), with only two regions Rioja and Priorat. <br><br> The country has more than 500 indigenous grape varieties, with 30 the most planted, as well as international grapes like Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc which are producing some outstanding wine and are becoming more and more popular in Spain. Tempranillo is the main grape variety and the most planted - it is used in the country's most prestigious wines. Other varieties are Bobal, Garnacha (same as Grenache), Monastrell and Viura. Lastly, Albarino, a white grape variety that is growing in popularity. <br><br> The diversity of wine style in Spain is immense like its territory, but the most prominent examples are the fine and mineral white wines from Galicia, the world-famous La Rioja and Ribera del Duero regions with their big and in the same time elegant red wines, the historical Sherry from Jerez, the refreshing sparkling Cava from Penedés. Over the past few decades, Spain's wine production was involved in a great deal of modernization, keeping the traditional practices and implementing modern equipment. The outcome has been a significant increase in the quality and reliability of the Spanish wine. <br><br> Somehow, Spain has always been in the shadow of France and Italy in terms of viticulture, winemaking techniques and popularity on the international wine market. But nowadays, producers are adapting to the demands of the international wine market with innovation and up-to-date winemaking techniques and offering both consumer favourites and great value for money. In the past few decades, the country has produced some exceptionally high-quality wines which are competing with the best wines in the world.
Stellenbosch is a town in the Western Cape province of South Africa, about 50 kilometres from Cape Town, along the banks of the Eerste River at the foot of the Stellenbosch Mountain established by Dutch emigrants and possibly the most famous wine region in South Africa with nearly 18% of the county’s wine production happening here. <br><br> Stellenbosch climate is moderately hot and dry with maritime influence coming from False Bay in the south and very important cooling south-easterly breezes which are blowing through the vineyards refreshing the grapes after the morning's hot sun. The soil types are ranging from light, sandy soils to decomposed granite, creating several sub-regions. <br><br> Stellenbosch is known for producing Bordeaux style wines, with Cabernet Sauvignon the most planted grape variety followed by merlot, and it was also the birth place of the native variety Pinotage, a varietal cross of Pinot Noir and Cinsaut, created in 1924. <br><br> In 1973, South Africa developed their own wine classification system, Wine of Origin, and Stellenbosch was not only recognised as one of the area, but it was actually divided in many sub regions because of its varied terroir.<br><br> The region is the birthplace of the indigenous grape variety Pinotage a crossing of Pinot Noir and Cinsaut which is the signature grape of the nation. The white grape which thrives here is the Chenin Blanc called Steen locally producing some of the most notable expressions of the grape in sweet, dry and sparkling styles. Of course, there are international varieties like Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cinsault, Pinot Noir and Sémillon producing spectacular wines.
Brazil has a sizeable wine industry and it is the third largest producer of wine in South America, behind Argentina and Chile with a substantial area devoted to viticulture, even though much is table grape rather than wine grapes.<br><br> Brazilian wine’s reputation is not yet recognized and in an effort to increase it, all parties are working together to improve it and year on year, the quality is improving. Brazil’s most appreciated wines are its sparkling wines, mainly made with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and following the classic, traditional method. Other sparkling are made following the Martinotti method. <br><br> Brazil's wine industry has been relatively slow to develop, the country's huge size and tropical climate made it difficult to establish a national wine industry. Brazil is located on the equator and its enormous size and topographic variations mean that climate varies widely across the country.<br><br> Rio Grande do Sul is the center of Brazilian wine production and the vast majority of wine comes from the southernmost regions, Campanha and particularly Serra Gaucha, home to Brazil's sparkling wine capital, Bento Gonçalves. An interesting fact worth mentioning is that the São Francisco Valley in Pernambuco, is known for being able to produce two crops of grapes each year.<br><br> Even though Brazil production of quality wines worth exporting only started in the 1970, its history of viticulture, goes back many centuries. Grape vines first arrived in Brazil in the 16th Century introduced by Portuguese colonists. The 1970 progress was due to the arrival of international wine companies from Europe that brought know-how and technology, together with grapes such as Chardonnay and Semillon for whites, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot for reds that were growing in popularity.
Dry Creek Valley is a small American Viticultural Area (AVA) located just north-west of Healdsburg in the Sonoma County wine growing region of California. It takes its name from the river Dry Creek which is a tributary to the Russian River. <br><br>The Dry Creek AVA is famous for its Zinfandel amongst the red wines and the Sauvignon Blanc for the whites. The grape-growing history of the area goes back 140 years when Italian settlers moved into the valley following the California Gold Rush. In 1919, prohibition had almost devastated the majority of the vineyards and it wasn't until the 1970s that the revival of the wine industry started, in 1983, the official AVA status of Dry Creek was created.<br><br> The climate of Dry Creek Valley is warm with cooling influence by the Pacific Ocean to the west and San Francisco Bay to the south. The famous fog created by this microclimate is vital for the good diurnal temperature variation, which slows the ripening process and ensures the development of balanced acidity as the grapes ripen. <br><br>The soil types of the AVA are quite diverse with considerable differences between the hillsides and the valley plain. The predominant soil on the hillsides is gravel with rocks that are rich in iron with good drainage, which is perfect for the Zinfandel vines, whilst in the plain is alluvial soils, which has a good drainage and fertility. <br><br> The most planted grape in the Dry Creek Valley is the Zinfandel which shows typical aromas of ripe raspberries, blackberries and a touch of warm baking spices and has become a benchmark in California. The other significant grapes in the area are Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot and Chardonnay.
Russian River Valley is one of the most important American Viticultural Area AVA that takes its name from the Russian River that pass through the Sonoma County wine-growing region of California. It is one of the coolest areas in California and well-known for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The Russian River is the second-largest river within the nine-county Greater San Francisco Bay Area. <br><br>The viticultural history of the area dates back to the 19th century when immigrants from France and Spain settled in the region and began planting vines. And by the dawn of the 20th century, nearly 200 wineries were operating and selling their grapes to bulk wine producers. It was not until the 1970s that vineyards in the Russian River region would begin to focus on quality wine production and using their grapes for local bottling. The region became AVA in 1983 and began to develop a reputation for the quality of its Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wine production, still and sparkling .<br><br> The climate of the Russian River AVA is characterized by cool morning fog that comes in from the ocean through the Petaluma Gap and vanishes during the day influencing the diurnal temperature variation in a cooling way, which is very important for preserving the freshness in the wines. The central and western parts of the AVA are the coolest and tend to be most extensively planted with Pinot noir and Chardonnay, as the warmest northeastern corner, near the city of Windsor is mostly planted with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. <br><br>The soils of the Russian River were shaped by collisions between the North American and Pacific tectonic plates and eruptions by volcanic vents that deposited volcanic ash over layers of eroded bedrock. That has created sandstone of loam known as ""Goldridge soil"", which is the most respected in the whole area perfectly suited for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines. There is another very typical soil type near the town of Sebastopol based on clay, which is also very good for Pinot Noir grapes.<br><br> Some of the world's best Pinot Noirs are produced in the area, with characteristics of vibrant transparent colour, lively acidity, cherry and berry fruit flavours and delicate aromas that would often include earthy mushroom notes. Pinot Noir planted here accounts for more than 15% of the California's total and 10% of all grapes in the Sonoma County wine region. The other grape varieties planted in the area are Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gewürztraminer and Pinot Gris.
Alexander Valley is an important AVA (American Viticultural Area) located in the famous Sonoma County wine-growing region of California. It is home to some of the best wineries in the United States. Its name derives from Cyrus Alexander, a big landowner in Sonoma in 1847, and later the AVA became famous with its vineyards with the settling of Swiss-Italian emigrants in 1888. <br><br>In the beginning, the area was predominately associated with mass-produced bulk blended wines until the 1960s when innovative and quality-driven wineries were established. The leading grape variety of the Alexander Valley became the Cabernet Sauvignon which gives birth to vibrant and fruity wines with a good structure and power.<br><br> The climate in the Alexander Valley is warm and dry, influenced by the nearby Pacific Ocean, which provides the much-needed cool breezes and fogs in the nights to cool down the vineyards and preserve the acidity in the grapes. The soils of the AVA are quite diverse due to the long history of plate movements that pasted ancient seafloor on to the continent, deposited younger volcanic and sedimentary rock which are very poor and tend to be well-drained. The best vineyards are planted on the southwest-facing slopes sitting on the Mayacamas mountain range at around 150 metres above sea level.<br><br> As mentioned, the Cabernet Sauvignon is the main grape followed by the Merlot, which is a great partner to the Cabernet as well as a standing alone varietal wine. The Zinfandel deserves special attention as some of the best examples are coming from Alexander Valley, especially the ones from old vines. <br><br>Other notable grape varieties are Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache, Viognier and Syrah.
Stag's Leap District is a legendary American Viticultural Area AVA situated in the Napa Valley region, home to some of the most prestigious wineries in the United States. Vine growing in the region goes back to the middle of the 1800s with the first winery build in 1878 and in 1961 the first vineyard with Cabernet Sauvignon was planted, starting a renaissance for the world most famous red grape variety. The region was granted its AVA status in 1989, and by that time, Cabernet Sauvignon was the overwhelmingly dominant grape. <br><br> The vineyards are spread over 1200 acres with a hot climate influenced by the famous Napa Valley fog coming from the San Pablo Bay resulting in cool, moist breezes that blow northwards up the valley. These climatic factors are providing a very important refreshing relief from the hot and dry days, allowing the grapes to retain some of the freshness valuable for the balance of the wine. The Stag's Leap District soil is very diverse, predominantly volcanic with a clay-like substructure and gravel, found more on the hillsides. <br><br> The dominant grape variety is Cabernet Sauvignon with 90% followed by Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel and Chardonnay. Cabernet Sauvignon is the iconic grape for Stag's Leap District, in 1976 at the Judgment of Paris blind wine tasting, the 1973 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon won first place in the red wine category, knocking out the top Bordeaux estates. Since that historic event, the prices of Napa Valley wines have constantly gone up making its wines some of the most sought after in the world. <br><br> Stag's Leap District AVA is home to more than 20 of some of the best wineries in Napa Valley, trying to pursue the best expression of their grapes and terroirs.
St Helena is a historic AVA (American Viticultural Area) located in the Napa Valley region in the shadow of the 1325 m asl Mount Saint Helena. St Helena is the birthplace of the of Napa Valley’s commercial wine industry. The viticultural history of St Helena goes back to the 1840s when a Mission was established. In 1873, pioneers Charles Krug and Henry Pellet combined their production to ship the first wines outside California, within a decade, their wines had become popular. St Helena was officially recognised as AVA in 1995. <br><br> St Helena has 3600ha of densely planted vineyards with one of the hottest climates in the Napa Valley due to the protection from the western hills, with less fog or wind incursions. The region has a combination of warm days with high winds in the evening creating a massive diurnal shift. The cold nights allow the vines to rest and maintain the acidity producing fruity wines with good colour and reasonably fresh. The region's soil is mainly mixed gravel and clay with lower fertility and moderate water retention, but further north and to the east the soils are prevalently volcanic in origin and deeper and more fertile. <br><br> St Helena’s AVA is famous for big, structured and fruity wines made predominantly from Cabernet Sauvignon and to a lesser extent Merlot, as well as small plantings of Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc. <br><br> St Helena is known for some of California's most distinguished and oldest wineries and outstanding wines. Nowadays this is an area with an enormous concentration of investments making the region one of the most modern winemaking area in the world.