Alsace with its villages, vineyards and towns linig the foothills of the Vosges mountains, is on of the most picturesque wine regions of France. This unique area of mirtheast France, which produces some of the greatest white wines in the country, still prides itself on making handcrafted wines and steers clear of outside investment.
The region’s continental climate is exceptionally dry. Almost all Alsace wines are white wine and dry wines, whit exception of late harvest wines and some red wine produced from Pinot Noir. The soil is extremly varied, with the best vineyards classified as Grand Cru.
Mostly grapes of Germanic origin are grown here, but the resulting wines are much more expresive and fuller-bodied than those over the border. Often consumed with food, the main grape varieties, which are always mentioned on the label, are Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Tokay-Pinot-Gris, Muscat, Pinot Blanc, and Sylvaner.
Some of the greatest wines of Alsace are the Vendange Tardives and Selection des Grains Nobles, which can live for over forty years. Outstanding wines include: Riesling Clos Ste., Hune from F.E. Trimbach, Domaine Zind Himbrecht’s Gewürztraminer Rangen Grand Cru, and Hugel’s Riesling Vendage Tardive.
Alsace has the nost complex geological make-up of all the great wine regions of France. Some of the greatest wines of Alsace are the Vendange Tardives and Selection des Grains Nobles, which can live for over forty years. Outstanding wines include: Riesling Clos Ste., Hune from F.E. Trimbach, Domaine Zind Himbrecht’s Gewürztraminer Rangen Grand Cru, and Hugel’s Riesling Vendage Tardive.
Alsace has the nost complex geological make-up of all the great wine regions of France.
Podravje (Podravski Vinorodni Region) means the valley of the Drava, which is one of the two important rivers in this region. The climate here in the extreme north-east of Slovenia is continental of a Central European nature. This helps the area to produce fine, fresh, elegant, and aromatic white Slovenian wines. Podravje is also renowned for its delightful sweet wines (Pozna Trgatev, Izbor, Jagodni Izbor, Suhi Jagodni Izbor, and Ledeno Vino). Podravje borders on Hungary and Austria in the north, and Croatia to the east.
This area is located on the other - western - side of the Neusiedler See lake, between the lakes of the plains and the Thermen-region. It is best known for its seductive sweet Austrian wines such as the famous Rüster Ausbruch.
The white Austrian wines are made from I Welsch Riesling, Weiss I Burgunder, Neuburger, Sauvignon, and Morillon (Chardonnay).
Excellent red Austrian wines are Neusiedler See-Hügelland made in the area around the picturesque village of Rust from Fränkisch, Zweigelt, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Most of the vineyards are sited on soils of clay, sand, chalk, and black loam.
This Austrian wine region in the picturesque valley of the Danube makes quality wines, including excellent Grüner Veltliner, Neuburger, Chardonnay, and Weiss Burgunder.
The vineyards are arranged in terraces on steep slopes above the Danube. The underlying geology is mainly of basalt and other igneous rock. This region produces the finest wines of Austria although the competition with Styria is becoming more intense.
The Rheingau is not only the geographical centre of the German wine industry, but also its historic centre.
The relatively small region lies on the northern bank of the Rhine between Hocheim and Lorch. With the exception of the small Grosslagen of Daubhaus (north of Hocheim), Steil (near Assmannshausen), and Burgweg (near Lorch) the Rheingau forms one continuous area on the hills of the Taunus.
The Rheingau is renowned for its wonderful landscape, its superlative wines, and its important role in Germany's history of wine. All the basisconcepts and terminology of present-day German wine law originated here. The first wines to be made from late harvested grapes were made here and also the first Trockenbeerenauslesen. Riesling thrives nowhere else as well as it does here on soil consisting of loess, loam, and weathered slate.
Rheingau's celebrated Riesling is elegant, fruity, fresh, and of great class. The best wines often possess a firm, almost spicy character, and enough acidity to enable them to be kept for several years. In addition to the Riesling, the Rheingau is also world renowned for Spatburgunder wines from Assenhausen that are outstanding for a German red wine.
Four wine regions come together where the Nahe joins the Rhine: Nahe, Rheinhessen, Rheingau, and Mittelrhein. The last of these is an extended area from Bingen by way of Bacharach and Koblenz to the mouth of the Ahr, in the north of the region. The vineyards are sited on terraces on either side of the Rhine. The landscape is quite literally breathtaking.
Wines from Mittelrhein need to be discovered locally. These wines are characteristic of their terroir, slate on the hills but more clay near the river. Riesling here is responsible for the best wines, which are elegant, fruity, and well structured, sometimes with quite high acidity. The Miiller-Thurgau and Kerner are more mellow but are also quite strongly acidic.
This region is relatively small and comprises a tongue of land between Heidelberg and Bensheim. The area is bounded by the Rhine in the west and the superb Odenwald in the east. The soil is almost exclusively loess, which is good for white wines. Here too little of the local production leaves the area.
The German wine region of Baden is in the south-east of Germany, forming a fairly long strip from the northern shore of the Bodensee by way of the famous Black Forest... Read more about German Baden Wine
The vineyards of Württemberg are situated on hills above the Neckar and its tributaries.
Read more about German Württemberg Wine
Rheinpfalz is the most French of all the German wine regions.
Read more about German Rheinpfalz Wine
This widely known wine region stretches itself out along the Saar, Ruwer, and the Mosel rivers, from Saarburg by way of Trier to Koblenz..
Read more about German Mosel-Saar-Ruwer
This is one of the 'new' wine regions of Germany in the former East Germany. Together with the other 'new' region of Saale/ Unstruut they form the most northerly of the German wine areas.
Read more about German Saxony Wine
Riesling dominates here followed by the fragrant MüllerThurgau and subtle Silvaner (Sylvaner). Most wines are elegant and fruity with fine acidity. They are also very refreshing.
This grape achieves its best I believe in sweeter wines. The bouquet of citrus and tropical fruits keeps the sultry,
comforting ripeness of banana and honey in balance. The relatively high acidity also moderates the otherwise very sweet taste of the wine.
Pine medium dry to sweet wines are made from the noble Riesling here just as they are in Germany. The fresh and refined acidity of Riesling keeps the wine well balanced in spite of its cosseting sweetness. There are very attractive floral aromas and also apple, peach, and honey with the sweeter Late Harvest, and the occasional mineral undertones. Drinking temperature is 46.4-53.6°F (8- 10°C).
Ice-wine is probably the best-known Canadian speciality. The best of these wines walk off with major prizes at the majority of the international exhibitions. Ice-wine can in principle be made from any type of grape including red varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon or Pranc, but with a few exceptions the most interesting of them are produced from Vidal and Riesling. The method of making Icewines is the same as that for making German or Austrian Eiswein and French Vins de Glace from the south-west of France.
The grapes are allowed to hang until frozen by the frost. They are then quickly pressed and the tasteless frozen liquid remains behind with the seeds and skins, with only the honey sweet juices emerging from the press.
These juices are so concentrated that the yeast cells which can normally live up to a level of alcohol of 15% are finished by 8 or 9%. Ice-wines are very complex, powerful, extremely aromatic wines with notes such as apricot, peach, sweet melon, and honey with Vidal grapes and tropical flowers, apricot, citrus fruit, toffee, and vegetal nuances with Riesling. To gain double the pleasure serve it cold at 46.4-53.6°F (8- 10°C) but then allow it to warm up slowly.
Most Canadian roses are very lightly structured and not terribly interesting. They are certainly fruity but despite good acidity and reasonable complexity most are knocked back like soft drinks. Drinking temperature is 50- 53.6°F (1O-12°C).
This is an extremely surprising French-Canadian hybrid which produces quite exciting results in Canada with full-bodied wines with lots of juice and taste that are very scented with suggestions of blackcurrant, blueberries, tobacco, and animal undertones. Some top Baco Noirs slightly resemble better Rhone Syrah wines. Drinking temperature is 60.8-62.6°F (16-17°C).
The typical bouquet is of woodland fruits, cherry, and a hint of wild strawberry which when older become more rustic notes of leather, animal, and humus. Drinking temperature is 57,2- 60.8°F (14- 16°C).
Bear in mind that many Canadian Cabernet wines are a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Pranc but may also contain Merlot. These are generally well-made wines but the best of them are simply fantastic. They have constantly caused great surprise in blind tastings with their power, complexity, seductive fruitiness, and elegant tannin. Drinking temperature is 60.8-62.6°F (16-17°C).
The best wine houses also make excellent Sauvignon Blancs, Aligotes, Gamay Blancs and Rouges. These wines are not very abundant though.
The following wines from the best Canadian wineries are well worth trying.
- Ontario: Chateau des Charmes, Hildebrand Estates Winery, Inniskillin, Marijnissen Estates, Reif Estate Winery (all Niagara-on-the-Lake); D'Angelo (Amherstburg); Henry of Pelham (St. Catharines); Stoney Ridge Cellars (Winona); Lakeview Cellars (Vineland); Cave Spring Cellars (Jordan); Colio Estate (Harrow); and Pelee Island Winery (Kingsville) .
With new wineries coming on stream at an amazing rate, New Zealand seems to raise the standard year on year. Dramatic improvments have been made with red wines, with Pinot Noir all the rage. The total area under vine in New Zealand has more than doubled since 1990, and its wine industry is one of the most forward-thinking in the world.
New Zealand wine is exciting because of the number of wines being produced from slightly less predictable grape varieties. Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer and Riesling perform well while beyond Pinot Noir, it may be suprising to find Syrah, Zinfandek and even Pinotage producing the goods and joining Cabernet Saugvinon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot.
New Zealand’s wine-producing regions strech from Auckland on the North Island to Central Otago, the country’s most southerly wine region on South Island. The country benefits from a temperate, maritime climate and a wide range of wine style are produced. On the North Island some of New Zealand’s top Cabernet-based reds are made in the Auchlakd/Henderson area. Waiheke Island, a short ferry journey from Auckland, enjoys a warm microclimate, which helps it ot produce rich Bordeaux blends. In Northland, a number of boutiqui wineries are making hight-class Cabernet-based reds and Chardonnay. Gisborne is Chardonnay country but also produces some promising Gewürztraminer.
Hawke’s Bay is a region with a range of soils, including the Gimblett gravels, a 2,000- acre area of deep, stony soil. Full, rich Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot blends are made in good vitanges. The Chardonnay are some of New Zealand’s most powerful and Sauvignon Blanc tends to be more rounded than the Marlborough style, from South Island. On the southeastern tip of North Island, the tiny region of Martinborough, also known as Wairarapa, excels in fine Pinot Noir.
On the South Island, Marlborough, the largest region in the New Zealand, has seen extensive expasion since the mid 1970s. The maritime climate and stony soils are perfect for Sauvignon Blanc, which has become synonymous with Marlborough. Distinctive Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and sparkling wines are also made in this hugely fashionable region.
The white Slovenian wines from this area are certainly among the best in Europe. Unfortunately the means are not to hand to make their wines better known. The Slovenian wines from the local cooperative Jeruzalem Ormoz should have a large market potential in Europe. You are unlikely to encounter such fine Pinot Blanc (Beli Pinot) anywhere else than from Ljutomer Ormoske Gorice. The bouquet is redolent of may blossom and other white flowers, perhaps with a hint of broom, and even fruit stone liquor (Slibowitz). The taste is very fresh with elegant and refined acidity, the relationship between alcohol, body, and fruit is perfect, and the price is a gift. Drinking temperature for this Slovenian wine is 10-12°C (50-53.6°F).
With most French wines the area from which they originate is the most important information on the label. All wines in Alsace are Alsace AOC but they are identified by their grapes. A wine may be ordered in France as a Riesling, Sylvaner, Gewürtztraminer, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, or Pinot Gris/ Tokay but everyone knows immediately that these are Alsace wines. Only the local place name is indicated on the labels of Muscat wines because there are different types of Muscat wine in France (such as the sweet wines of the south). No other area in France follows this practice.
The taste of a wine depends principally on the grapes from which it is made. Different climates, soils and winemaking tehniques also play a part.
White wine is almost always made from white grapes, although black grapes can be uses if contact between the skins (where colour is obtained) and the juice is avoided. All grapes varieties have individual characteristics and ripen at different times, the type of grape exerting a heavy influence an the taste of a wine.
Broadly speaking the style of white wine produced can be broken down into three categories: light-bodies white wines such as German Riesling, aromatic white wines such as Gewürztraminer, and full-bodied and wooded white wines such as Chardonnay or Sémillon.
Today world's most popular white grape, Chadonnay express its varietal character in many forms: from the racy, steely, and nervy wines of Chablis, to the fuller-bodied, buttery rich wine made in the Napa Vally, California.
This is an aromatic grape, which ripens early and is mostly grown in cool-climate vineyards. Its range extends from featherweight tangy, dry white wines like Sauvignon de Touraine, to the ripe, almost tropical-like fruitiness obtained in California, where the less common addition of oak is often adopted and labelled 'Fume Blanc'. Sauvignon Blanc thrives on chalk or gravel soil.
The Riesling grape is seen by many as the most versatile variety of white grape in the world. It is without doubt a class act with a number of strengths, not least its ability to outperform Chardonnay in the longevity stakes.
Arguably one fo the most underrated verieties of grapes, Sémillon, Bordeaux's most widely planted white grape, makes delicious dry and sweet wines. With an almost honeyed texture, Sémillon is often partnered by Sauvignon Blanc to lift the acidity, although Australian winemakers also blend Sémillon Trebbiano.
An extremely versatile variety of grapes, Chenin Blanc is capable of making dry and crisp white wines that are great as an aperitif, through to medium, unctuous and sweet styles. Due to the keeen and vibrant acidity often found in Chenin Blanc grape, they make brilliant food wines and can stay in good shape for many years after the vitange.
This distinctive grape variety is known by its friends simply as Gewürtz but sometimes also as Traminer. It provides interese aromas, reminiscent of lychee, rose petals and spice.
It is impossible in short to describe all the wine areas of Hungary so the emphasis is placed on the best of them. In 1998 there were at least 22 different wine areas in Hungary of which the best are Sopron, Aszar- Nesmzmely, and Etyek (north west), Matraalja, Eger, and Tokajhegyalja (north east), Villany Siklos, Szekszard, and Tolna (south west), with to a lesser extent Badacsony (north east), Balatonfiired- Csopak, Balatonmellek, and Del-Balaton (Lake Balaton).
Sopron is a perfect example of a restored and cared for old historic town. The old town centre is one of the most attractive in Europe. The area surrounding the town is also beautiful with green undulating hills and enormous fields of oilseed rape.
Posavje(Posavski Vinorodni Region) means the valley of the Sava, which is the river that together with its tributaries, the Sotla, Savinja, and Krka provides the necessary moisture to this region. Posavje is situated south of Podravje, against the Croatian border. The area has a climate that is principally central European and continental but with moderating Mediterranean influences from the south, especially in Bela Krajina. Every type of this Slovenian wine is produced here from fresh to sweet, from light to moderately full-bodied, and white, rosé, and red, still or sparkling. Posavje is renowned for its excellent late harvest sweet Slovenian wines such as (Pozna Trgatev) and for Eiswein (Ledeno Vino), and others produced from grapes carefully selected such as Izbor, Jagodni Izbor, and Suhi Jagodni Izbor.