Wine Searcher

  • American wine

        Although grapes are grown and wine is made in most American states, only in California and the Pacific northwest are grapes grown in significant quantities. Only wnes from these areas have gainde an international reputation for quality.

     California’s reputation has been built on bold, ripe, fruit-driven wines, which often carry their fair-share of new oak. The state has had its problems, with almost every deadly wine disease rearing its ugly head at some stage, yet it has without doubt, some of the world’s best growing conditions.

     The Pacific Ocean is hugely influential, moderating a hot climate with its cool breezes and fogs. Most of California’s commercial wines come from the warm and fertile Central Valley, but its premium wines tend to be made from fruit grown much closer to the coast. The Napa Valley, sometimes referred to as the Bordeax of California, is situated just north of San Francisco Bay. As an appellation, Napa has a deversity of soil, climate, and topography, which particularly suits Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. A food culture has also evolved here, making it a destionation for the rich and famous. The areas of Sonoma and Carneros, separated from the Napa Valley by the Mayacamus Mountains, are much cooler and are therefore able to specialise in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Warmer districts, such as Dry Creek, are found in northern Sonoma, where some superb Zinfandels are produced, Zinfandel is California’s ‘own grape’. At best it priduces blackberry-flavoured, full-bodied reds, often from old wines. At worst it also makes ‘blush’ of White Zin, a pale relation, bottled with a dash of sweetness.

     The small, but up-and-coming Sierra Foothills area is a great source of Rhône and Italian varietals while south of San Francisco lies the region of Santa Cruz which is home to some top-class wineries.

     Washington State and Oregon, collectively known as the Pacific northwest, like California lie on the western side of the country. Spanning three adjoingh states, this is an area of rolling hills, rivers and valleys. Washington, with approximately 30,000 acres of vineyards, tends to be the warmer of the two regions. Its plantings focus mostly around the eastern side of the Cascade Mountain range.

     Oregon, has only 12,000 acres of vine-yards, which have developed in the cooler Willamette Valley, Burgundian and Alsatian grape varieties, such as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Muscat, thrive here. Oregon gained overnight fame in 1979 when David Lett of the Eyrie Vineyard entred the estate’s 1975 Pinot Noir in a blind wine tasting competition, organised by the Burgundian negociant Robert Drouhin. Although Drouhin’s Chambolle-Musigny 1959 came first, the Eyrie vineyard vet meny famous Burgundy wines to come second. Oregon has been linked whit Pinot Noir ever since.

     Over the Columbia River in Eastern Washington, the dry and warm climate of the Columbia Valley is proving to be an excellent area to grown Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Syrah.

    Most of the vineyards here rely on irriagation, even though generally Washington tends to be quite wet. The Columbia Valley maybe the best-known region, but the Walla Walla Valley is beginning to generate a grate deal of excitement.

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  • Australia Wines

       When it comes to technical know-how, the Australians are streets ahead of the pack. Wine was being commercially produced here as long ago as 1850 but in modern times Australia has become one of the most successful wine-producing countries in the world.

     At the top end of the market, an emphasis is being placed like Orange and Wrattonbully. Mny of the new sites are in cooler areas, where the grapes provide better levels of natural acidity and aromatics. Australia built its reputation on wines showing ripe fruit flavours, often accompanied by noticeable use of oak, and in today’s commercial middle ground, there’s an enormous amount of wine being made to a standardised recipe, all backed up by full-throttle maketing.

    The main wine-producing regions are hear the cities of Perth in Western Australia, Adelaide in South Australia, Melborne in Victoria, and Sydney in New South Wales. The climate rends to be hot, so irrigation is often necessary. The vast size of the country means that the states provide different growing conditions. Some of Australia’s most elegant wines are made in the relatively cool climate of Western Australia. White wines from the Chardonnay, Semillon, Riesling, and Verdelho grapes have been successsuful, along ‘Bordeaux Blends’ from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

    South Australia includes the premium regions of the Barossa Valley, Coonawarra, and Adelaide Hills. Barossa Shiraz is world-famous for its inky, concentrated style, whilst Coonawarra, with its coole climate and Terra Rossa soil, provides ideal conditions for some af Australia’s outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon wines. The Adelaide Hills vineyards, situated at 450 metres above sea level, are proving to be a prome area for Riesling, Pinot Noir and bottle-fermented sparkling wines.

    A great range of wines is produced in Victoria, including the unique liqueur Muscats. The Yarra Valley benefits from one the coolest climates in Australia, resulting in fine Pinot Noirs, Rieslings, Chardonnays, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Australia’s ultimate cool climate location however, is Tasmania. The island is home to some of the very best Pinot Noirs.


    Hunter Valley

    In New South Wales, the lower and upper Hunter Valley, locared norh of Sydnay, has established itself as an area of ‘classic’ wines such as Semillon and Shiraz. Both of these can develop with bottle age.

    The area of Orange is rapidly becoming known for its excellent cool climate wines while the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area, which produces mostly commercial blends but with a smattering of extremly good botrytised wines, makes ten per cent of all Australian wine.

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  • Californian Wine

    Californian WinesCalifornia is the best-known wine region of America. The region is subdivided into six main areas. From north to south these are the North Coast (north of San Francisco, home of Napa Valley, Sonama, Carneros wines),Humboldt (on the banks of the Sacrmamento River), Sierra Foothills (at the foot of the Sierra Mountains east of Sacramento), Central Coast (south of San Francisco to slighty north of Los Angeles), Central Valley (a huge area on the banks of the San Joaquin River), and South Coast (between Los Angeles and San Diego).

    Franciscan monks from Bordeaux with the rather appropriate name of Jean Louis saw th possibilities here in 1830 and he improted countless European varieties of grapes.

    Things really took off though after the Gold Rush. The growers left the south alone and concentrated their efforts in the central and northern area where there was a ready market with the lager city of San Francisco. The quality of those wines was from modest to poor. In those days California made ponderous syrupy wines of little character and freshness. This was the start of the huge American bulk wine industry. Prohibition from 1919 to 1933, which banned the production of alcoholic drink on a commercial scale, was a major blow for the Californian wine trade.

    It seemed for a long time as though the growers would not survive this crisis. It was not until the 1970s that changes started to take place. Wine-making became a recongnised profession and people form California went to study at first hand in Europe with the best wine-makers. The result is nothing les than spectacular.

    There are still many ‘wimpy wines’ (plonk) in California, but quality is becoming more important than quantity with both the big business and small wineries.

    California wineYet many still regard California as a massive industrialised wine region with its enornous vineyards, wineries like palaces, batteries of high towering stainless steel storage tanks etc. Despite this the numbers of smaller producers is growing in places like the Sonoma Valley, and Carneros. These growers and makers not only know what they are talking about, they also bring much verve and passion to their wine-making.

    Hence the massive rows of readily saleable Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon are becoming smaller in scale and some even dare to replace them with specialist varieties such as Viognier for white wines and Barbera, Sangiovese, Syrah, and Granche for reds.

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  • Californian Wine

      California is the best-known wine region of America. The region is subdivided into six main areas. From north to south these are the North Coast (north of San Francisco, home of Napa Valley, Sonama, Carneros wines), Humboldt (on the banks of the Sacrmamento River), Sierra Foothills (at the foot of the Sierra Mountains east of Sacramento), Central Coast (south of San Francisco to slighty north of Los Angeles), Central Valley (a huge area on the banks of the San Joaquin River), and South Coast (between Los Angeles and San Diego).


    Franciscan monks from Bordeaux with the rather appropriate name of Jean Louis saw th possibilities here in 1830 and he improted countless European varieties of grapes.


  • Chilean Wine and History

    Chilian WinesChile produces much less wine than Argentina, but has had greater success on the export markets. Known of its fruits and appealing wines, made from a wide range of grape varieties, Chile has the knack of producing wine style that consumers are very happy to drink.

     The foundations of today’s Chilian wine industry were laid down in the 1850s. Many South Americans were great travellers and wealthy landowners made the long journey to visit the vineyards of Europe.

    They retured with healty vines from regions like Bordeaux, which explains the presence of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Carménere, a grape variety that was, eventually, to give Chilian winemakers a real point of difference. It wasn’t until the 1990s that Carménere eas identified by the French ampelographer Jean Michel Bourisiquot. Up until this time Carménere had been commonly mistaken for Merlot. Chilian Carménere has abundant blackbarry-like fruit, chocolate, and coffee flavours.

  • New South Wales

      New South Wales is a large wine-growing area of which the only well-known part is the Hunter Valley. The area lies to the south of Canberra and stretches to the north of Sydney and Newcastle.


    Tumbarumba is best known for its sparkling wines. The area is a difficult one for wine-growing with severe winters, excessive rainfall, and cool summers. Despite this the locals manage to produce reasonable to good whites and reds from Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir on pretty acid soil.


    This area lies further inland than the previous one. The hot and humid climate in summer makes it ideal here to produce late harvest and noble rot wines, that are mainly made from Semillon. The soil is level layers of sand and loam, interspersed with some clay.



    The Young area lies inland and to the north west of Canberra. The vineyards are sited fairly high on hills. Although there is fairly substantial rainfall here during the otherwise moderately hot summer, irrigation remains necessary. Despite this the Young area produces reasonable to good wines.



    Cowra is situated in the hinterland of Sydney. This is a fairly recent newcomer that is barely more than 25 years old. The vineyards are sited on slopes along the local river. The soil is a mixture of clay, loam, and sand that is fairly highly acidic. The climate tends towards continental with hot dry summers. Despite this there is fairly considerable rainfall during the growing period so that irrigation is not always required. Cowra's wines are mainly whites and they are characterised by plenty of taste for little money.


    Lower Hunter Valley

    This is one of Australia's oldest wine-growing areas, and it is mainly known for its superb Semillon and Syrah. The climate is hot but there is sufficient moisture. The soil on the slopes where the vineyards are situated is mainly sand, which is ideal for white wines.


    Upper Hunter Valley

    This too is a white wine area, mainly producing Chardonnay and Semillon. It is somewhat hotter and drier here than in the Lower Hunter Valley.


    The soil chiefly consists of a mixture of salty and acidic loam and sand. The Upper Hunter Valley is perhaps the most picturesque wine area in Australia.{jcomments on}

  • North-West for American Wine

       The North-West region is better known as Washington State and Oregon. The Columbia and Snake rivers are vital for the wine industry.

    The are lies to the south-east to the south-east of Seattle, on both sides of Portland. Wine-making in this region is a fairly recent phenomenon.

     There wew trials in the nineteenth century with native and hybrid grapes but the first Vitis viniferavarieties were not introducec until the end of that century. Wine-growing started to become larger in scale during the twentieth century thanks to a major irrigation project. The final real breakthrough for areas such as Oregon occurred in the 1970s, when serious-minded growers planted leading European varieties. Oregon’s Pinot Noir is now known worldwide thanks to investment by several leading French companies like Drouhin of Beaune.


    The climate in the north-west of the United States is moderate in Oregon but almost desert-like in Washington State where the dependence on irrigation is total.

    The winters are also colder and drier in Washington State than Oregon. The soil varies widely, from loam in Oregon to layers of volcanic origin in Washington. The chice of grape variety is therefore extremely important.

    Various varieties are grown in the two large AVAs of Washington State (Columbia Valley, Yakima Valley, and Walla Walla Valley), and West Pacific (inclunding Oregon, Willamette Valley, and Umpqua Valley). Pinot Noir with Chenin Blanc, Semillon, and Sauvignon Blanc, while Oregon also produces reasonable to good Pinot Gris.


    It goes without saying that there is much chaff among the corn in both area and results vary from years to years through changing weather, especially in Oregon. But by choosing fron the better wines you will find that are truly some great ones.

    Oregon Pinot Noir

    Some Pinot Noir wines from Oregon can hold their own against the best French wine. They are superb in colour, have seductive bouquets to red and black fruits such as blachberry, blackcurrant, redcurrant, and cherry, and touches of herbs and spices, including sweetwood, and a complex and harmonious texture.

    They are also elegant with a refined taste. There may also be suggestions of truffle, exotic, woods, and a good balance between acidity, alcohol, fruit, and tannin, with a prolonged aftertaste.


     These wines can be kept for at least five to ten years when they develop a nose of plum, fungi, humus, leather, and herbs. Drinking temperature is 53.6-57.2°F (14-16°C) when young and 57.2-60.8°F (14-16°C) when is mature.

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  • País Vasco and Ebro Spanish Wine

    País Vasco

    The Basque country has three faces: the picturesque coastline with endless countless beaches and fishing harbours, the large industrial towns, and the interior. The Basques have their own culture and own language that is possibly the original European language, and above all their own character. The Spanish part of the Basque country still has close ties with the French part (Pays Basque and Gascony or Gascogne). In this section we restrict ourselves to the north of the País Vasco, and in particular the areas of Bizkaya (Vizcaya) and Getaria (Guetaria). We use the Basque spellings with the Castilian spelling in brackets.

  • Portugal Wines



    Although the Douro region is one of the most Portuguese of the wine territories, the famous port or port wine as it was once called from the Douro valley is almost entirely due to the inventiveness of the English.


    Port or porto derives its name from the harbour town of Porto, the second city of Portugal. Porto is situated close to Vila Nova de Gaia where most port is stored, bottled, and traded.

    Ideal circumstances

    The valley of the Alto-Douro is probably the most picturesque wine area anywhere in the world. The vineyards start about 80 km (50 miles) to the east of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia and they are protected by the 1,400 metre high Marao mountain against the worst influences of a maritime climate.

    The soil is chiefly comprised of shale and folds of crumbled basalt which force the vines to send down long roots in search of nutrients and water. The summers are extremely warm and dry with bitingly cold and very wet winters. To prevent erosion and make it easier to tend the vines, the area is widely terraced. Despite this everything is hard manual work. That these working conditions are difficult is underscored by the fact that only 40,000 hectares of the permitted 250,000 hectares are actually planted with vines.

    The traditional varieties of grape for making white port are Arinto, Boal Cachudo, Cercial, Malvasia Fina, Samarrinho, and Verdelho. Red port is made from a choice that includes Bastardo, Malvasia, Tinto Mourisco, Touriga Francesa, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional, Periquita, and Tinta Barroca. This wide variety helps in part explain the wide differences between different ports.

    The same exciting ritual takes place in about mid September of each year. Long lines of grape-pickers

    enter the quintas or vineyards to pick the ripe grapes, terrace by terrace. After picking, the grapes are collected in huge baskets to be brought to the press some tens of kilometres away. Today most port-making companies use pneumatic presses but some of the smaller companies still utilise the traditional huge but low granite tubs or lagares, in which the family, pickers, and friends press the grapes with their bare feet or with special shoes. This scene out of folklore is often done to music and attracts scores of tourists.

    During vinification, which nowadays happens in stainless steel tanks, wine alcohol is added during fermentation at the rate of 10 litres per 45 litres of fermenting must. The new port is then transferred to wooden casks and left to rest for several months.

    After this the casks are transferred to Vila Nova de Gaia, where they are stored to mature in enormous cellars or lodges (armazens). More recently some port is now also left in the Douro valley to mature.

     The maturing process takes a minimum of two years. During the maturing in the huge 550 litre casks known as pipas the wine changes colour from purple/red to tan and the immature wine acquires specific character and bouquet.

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  • South Australia

    Clare Valley

    This is one of Australia's oldest wine-producing areas which has existed since the second half of the nineteenth century.

    High quality wines, and in particular very aromatic reds and superb floral Rieslings come from the Clare Valley. The climate is predominantly a moderate continental one with big differences between day and night temperatures, especially in summer. There is enough rainfall, mainly in the spring, to make irrigation unnecessary. The soil is mainly open calciferous red or brown clay.


    Adelaide Hills

    The vineyards in this area are sited at heights of 1,312- 1,640 feet (400-500 metres) and are becoming better known thanks to the production of very acceptable sparkling and quality wines. The altitude of the vineyards somewhat mitigates the heat and leads to increased rainfall. Since most of the rain falls in winter though irrigation is still necessary. The soil around Adelaide consists of a fairly infertile mixture of loam and sand.


    McLaren Vale

    McLaren Vale is one of Australia's best wineproducing areas and certainly the best in terms of the varied grapes and types of wine. The area is best known for the powerful dark and very aromatic reds and mighty whites. Despite the cooling effect of the ocean too little rain falls here and irrigation is necessary. McLaren Vale has many different soil types which explains the diversity of the wine. It is mainly sand and loam on underlying clay and chalk, or sand, or red or black weathered loam.


    Barossa Valley

    The Barossa Valley is probably the best-known wine area of Australia, both because of its wines and its rich history. The valley was the first territory of the early German settlers who started the wine industry here. German is still spoken here. The climate is hot, sunny, and with little moisture. Despite this there is little irrigation. The vines are trained low, almost like creepers, and the yield is intentionally kept low. This produces excellent wine which is very concentrated, full of colour and structure. The soil chiefly consists of brown sandy soil or clay to dark sand.



    This is a lesser known wine region on fairly level terrain that largely consists of loam or terra rossa with good underlying drainage. The shortage of rainfall here makes irrigation during summer necessary. The area mainly produces commercial wine but is switching over to quality wines such as those of Hardy.



    This is an extremely well-known area within South Australia where wine-growing started way back in the late nineteenth century. The finest Australian Cabernet Sauvignons originate from here these days. The area is situated immediately behind the coastal strip and is favourably influenced by the ocean. The climate here is a moderate maritime one with fairly cool summers (by Australian standards) .

     The loose red terra rossa soil has become a by-word throughout the world. If there is anywhere in Australia where it is possible to speak of the character of the terroir then it is Coonawarra.

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  • The Loire Valley - French Wine

       In comparison of the rest of France, the Loire has a cool climate. The area is capable of producing a wide range of wines, from light, dry, and crisp whites, to rosé, mediun-bodied reds, and luscious dessert wines.

      It is also a region where extremely good sparking wines are made. It was not until the mid 1940s that the Loire’s wines began to gain a reputation outside their local markets but since then, the region’s white wines, in particular, have featured on many restaurant wine lists. The Loire is the longest river in France and provides an entry to four main wine areas which lie between the Atlantic and the cebtre of France. Around Nantes, the influence of the sea is evident, while inland, the so-called central vineyards, including Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, have a continental climate. Anjou-Saumur and Touraine lie between these two extremes. The vast size of the region means theat there are many different soil types, but chalk and clay are the most prominent for a good white wine.

     Loire Valley WineThe most important grape varieties are Muscadet, Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc for the best white wines, and Cabernet Franc for red wines, with a little Pinot Noir grown in and aroud Sancerre. Muscadet, is a dry, fresh and crisp white wine, and a seafood wine ‘par excellence’. The term ‘sur lie’, usually assocuated with better-qualty Muscadet, indicates that the wine has spent time maturig on the lees and is bottled directly, to give added concentration and a faint pickle of carbon dioxide. In Anjou-Saumur, mostly dry or medium sweet white wines are produced form the Chenin Blanc grape. As well as having a bearing of the wines, the local chalk soil is evident in the extraordinary buildings typical of the area, where the white stone has a striking effect.

     Many of the sweet wines come from the sheltered area around the river Layon, a tributary of the Loire and are affected by noble rot. They are some of the hidden gems of the wine world and, like many of the white wines made from the Chenin Blanc, can age amazingly well. The best red wines of the Loire are made from the Cabernet Franc grape, in the subdistrict of Touraine. Generally medium-bodied, these delicious and elegant wines are made to drink young, but can also surprise with mid-term cellaring. Chinon, Bourgueil, Saint Nicholas de Bourgueil and Saumur Champigny are four appellations to look out for. Frustratingly, there’s some variation with the quality of wines from Vouvray and Montlouis but the best white wines are magnificent expression of the Chenin Blanc grape.

    Wine Loire Valley Sancerre wine takes its name from the hilltop town of the area. The district’s wines are arguably the word’s most famous appellation connected to the tangy, piquant wines made from the Sauvignon Blanc grape. Across the river Loire and just a few miles away, is Pouilly Sur Loire, home to Pouilly-Fume, where the white wines are produced from Sauvignon. Tending to be a little sterner, they are very good with food. Due to its proximity to the central vineyards are made from the Pinot Noir grape. Look out too, for the wines of Quincy, Reyilly, and Menetou Salon.

      Many of the white wines of the Loire Valley age remarkably well, changing in character from the mineral, flintlike flavours of youth to an almost honey-and-apricot textured complexity. Even 50-60-year-old wines can be in perfect shape.    Read more about Valley of the Loire here...

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  • The valley of the Loire - French Wines

    France's longest river, the Loire, (approx. 1,012 km/632 long) has its source in the Ardeche. The wild mountain stream first flows northwards towards Orleans where it turns with a broad sweeping bend to the left into a majestic river as it then calmly proceeds towards the sea. The valley of the Loire displays a constantly changing face. The French vineyards are spread out from the flat land near the banks and on gently undulating hills alongside forests and every type of agriculture. Its nickname of 'Le jardin de la France' (the garden of France) comes from the colourful fields of flowers.

  • Victoria Region

    Great Western

    This area is likely to become better known for its sparkling wines, which are Australia's first. Great Western resembles an Australian

    desert-like version of Tuscany, with many gently undulating hills. The climate is dry but fairly cool by Australian standards.The difference between day and night temperatures can be quite high in summer. There is low rainfall and irrigation is therefore usually necessary. The soil consists principally of layers of poor, highly acidic soil with salty undertones which does not simplify the making of the wines from here.  


    This is a fairly unknown area within the hinterland of Portland. The three well-known grapes of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier provide the basis for sparkling wines. The area is ideally suited for making sparkling wines because it gets relatively less hours of sun than the rest of southern Australia.

    Yarra Valley

    The Yarra Valley, which is better known than the other two areas of Victoria, is situated on the outskirts of Melbourne. The soil is a mixture of loam, clay, and sand that is extremely acidic.

     Some of the better land also has gravel and broken rock. Here too there is insufficient rainfall, making irrigation essential. The climate though is fairly cool, so that the Yarra Valley is able to produce some truly elegant wines.

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  • Wine History of Australia

       Australia's wine history is certainly not as old as the land itself. Southern Australia was first discovered by the Dutchman Abel Tasman and then eastern Australia was discovered much later

     by the Briton James Cook. The Aboriginal people certainly drank no wine.The first vines arrived in the late eighteenth century, intended for a botanical garden. The first official wine-growers arrived in the early nineteenth century. The Scot James Busby, with some experience of winegrowing and making acquired in France, successfully planted the first vineyards in the Hunter Valley. Vines were soon growing elsewhere in Australia. Apart from Hunter Valley on the east coast, they were planted in the south, around Adelaide, Southern Vale, and Barossa.

    The initial wines tasted somewhat like the present day Rhone wines through the excess of sun and too little water, although they were sold somewhat cheekily in London as 'Australian Burgundy' or even 'Burgundy'. The wine industry was given a sudden and unexpected impulse after World War I when thousands of soldiers were suddenly discharged with no work for them.

    The government encouraged soldiers to make a new life for themselves in growing and making wine. This proved to be a success, indeed perhaps too successful given the hefty over production of wine that arose. The growers directed their efforts increasingly towards the production of port and sherry type fortified wines. This gave the growers two ways of getting rid of their surplus. The demand for fortified wines was huge and wine spirit was needed in order to make them.

    Up to the 1960s most Australians preferred to drink beer or gin to wine. The Australian wines were mainly intended for the local Greek and Italian immigrants and for export. When the Australian government took measures to reduce drinking and driving, the pattern of alcohol consumption began to change.

    Consumption of wine gradually increased in Australia, both at home and in restaurants, bars, and such places. Better wines started to be drunk but the bulk wine market remained very active. Wine in a can, bag, or box is still widespread here. With a consumption of 19 litres of wine per capita per annum the population of Australia still lags well behind that of most European countries, but a new style of life is clearly to be seen.

    The drinking habits of the world consumers changed in the 1970s. Far less sweet wine was drunk, with dry wines becoming far more popular. Australian producers reacted well by seeking out cooler places to grow their grapes such as the Eden Valley and Coonawarra which are more suitable for grapes like Sauvignon Blanc, Colombard, Riesling, Chenin Blanc, and Chardonnay.

    A similar change also occurred with red wine. Because Australian

     wines have now been discovered throughout the world, the Australian wine industry has seen explosive growth which continues into the new millennium. The Australian government has developed far-reaching plans to make Australia, one of the world's largest producing nations, after Italy, France, and Spain.

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  • Wine-growing areas from Chile

    Wine-growing areas

    Chile has four large wine regions of which Aconcagua, the Valle Central, and the Region Sur 0 Meridional are the best.

    These four are split into sub regions and where necessary also into zones.The most productive areas are Maule, Curico, Rapel, and Maipo, all located within the Valle Central between Santiago and Cauquenes.



    The Aconcagua region is the furthest north Chilean wine-growing area and it comprises two sub regions of the Valle del Aconcagua and the Valle de Casablanca. The Aconcagua valley is fairly flat and extends from the Andes to the sea. This long valley is 21 /2 miles (4 kilometres) across at its widest point and is enclosed by mountains of 4,921-5,905 feet (1,500- 1,800 metres) high. The climate is of the Mediterranean type: moderately hot.

    The Casablanca valley is smaller but more densely planted than the Aconcagua valley. It lies closer to the sea and therefore benefits from the cooling and moist sea breezes which are always apparent here. There are also not mountains but undulating hills of no more than 1 ,300 feet (400 metres) .


    Valle Central

    Running from north to south you first encounter the Maipo valley then the Rappel valley, followed by the Curicó valley, and then the Maule valley. The Maipo valley, called Maipo for short, runs on either side of the river of the same name. This valley stretches from the foot of the Andes to the sea and varies in height from 3,280 feet (1,000 metres) in the east to 1,640 feet (500 metres) in the west. This height difference and oceanic influence from the west lead to a big difference in planting from east to west.

    The Valle de Rapel or just Rapel is much larger than the Maipo valley and is watered by the rivers Cachapoal and Tinguirrica, which run into the Rapel river. The average height is quite low, less than 1,640 feet (500 metres) but some vineyards are sited at up to 3,280 feet (1,000 metres) at the foot of the mountains. It is more than twice as humid here as in the Maipo valley because of the moist sea winds which easily enter the valley.

    The Valle de Curicó or just Curicó is much smaller than the Rapel valley but is more efficiently and densely planted so that the vineyards useful area is slightly greater than that of the Rape!. This valley does not get its name from the river of the same name but from the town of Curic6. The vineyards are situated mainly in the central plain but a few are located on the steeper ground at the foot of the mountains. The climate here is quite moist as a result of the nearby ocean.

    The Valle del Maul or Maule is the most southerly valley of this central part of the Chilean wine industry. It is an enormous area but not necessarily efficiently planted everywhere. Irrigation comes from the Maule and its tributaries.

    The quiet elongated valley is surround by the Andes in the east and the hills behind the coast to the west. Despite this it is a fairly moist area, particularly in winter.


    Other wine areas

    A further two wine areas are situated in the extreme north and south of Chile. Coquimbo region in the north has sub zones of the Elqui, Limari, and Choapa valleys and in the south there are the lata and Bio valleys.

     These areas produce a great deal of base wine for the famous Pisco wine distillery.

    Changes have been taking place here in recent years such as the introduction of better grapes.{jcomments on}

  • Wines from California

    Wine areas


    California is a very large wine region in which the following guaranteed places of origin are the best known: Mendocino Country, Lake Country, Sonoma Country (includes the famous Russian River Valley and Sonoma Valley),

     Napa Valley, Los Carneros, Central Valley, Sierra Foothills, Livermore Valley, Santa Cruz Mountains, Monterey Country, San Joaquin Valley, San Luis Obispo Valley, and Santa Barbara Country.

    Irrigation is permitted throughout California but not necessary everywhere. The most popular grape varieties are Chardonnay, Colonbard, Chenin Blanc, Fumé Blanc, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Blanc, and Viognier for white wines and Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Barbera, Sangiovese, Syrah, and Grenache for red wine. The classic Californian grape variety of Zinfandel is starting to play an incresingly important role.



    You mai encounter thousands of different types of Californian wine because of the great differences in climate, soil, wine-making method, yield, and target group for marketing.

    Californian Champagne

    The powerful house of Champagne forbid everyone from using their name outside the designated area of Champagne in France yet you will find the term ‘Champagne’ used in the USA on other wines. To avoid long drawn out and costly law siuts in the American courts, the Champagne houses have had to accept that names such as ‘Californian Champagne’ are legally permitted here.

    They are however restricted to the domestic markets so that the so-called Californian Champagne must be sold in Europe merely as ‘sparkling wine’. American sparkling wines are made in both pink (rosé) and white and from quite dry to sweet. The driest is the Brut, followed by Extra Dry, Dry/Sec, and Demi-Sec, which is the sweetest.

    Only the highest quality sparkling are made in the United States by the traditional method with second fermentation in the bottle. Most are produced by the charmat or bulk method. This shows to be made down to a price. A thrid method is the transfer method which combines aspects of both the other methods. The results are of better quality than with the ordinary bulk method but remain cheaper than the traditional way.

    Whether white or rosé, some of these wines are well worth discovering. Two of the leading Champagne nouses make good ‘Champagne’ style wines in America. Those of Mumm are good while the Taittinger product is excellent.

     The Mumm wines from the Napa Valley are livelier and more unrully tha those of Taittinger, which come from Carneros, and are more grown-up and full-bodied. Drinking temperature is 42.8 – 46.4°F (6-8°C).

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