Friday, July 10, 2009

The Future of Wine?

I'm tired of wine. Let me explain. I'm tired of the wine regions that people care about. Napa, Sonoma, all of France, most of Spain, northern Italy, and lets throw in Paso Robles just for kicks.

So where then do we look for the next great wine region that we can plunder and and force into over-price-itude?

Old World: The re-emergent Eastern European wine scene is of interest.... Slovenia was quickly ravished by nearby Italian winemakers, but further down the Adriatic coast in Croatia, Bosnia, and Macedonia have some great white wines at great prices. Red wine is still tricky for this region, but we'll see how that develops.

A good spot for red wine is Portugal. Just like Spain fifteen years ago, Portugal is seeing a new generation of winemakers taking over and modernizing the process, creating wines with a little less funk, a bit more stability, and a bit more approachability from a new world palate. Check out wines from Alentejo for an easy point of entry.

New World: I'm still not sold on Australia. I think they make some decent wine but it's all ripe, straightforward stuff until you get into the ultra-premium range. New Zealand is worth a watch, but their varietal selections are limited. South Africa makes some very cool wines and price points seem to be coming down in recent years. Some of my favorite Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon comes out of South Africa.

In South America, there is some quality coming out of Argentina but you have to sift through the acres of cheap swill that represents the bulk of Argentine imports. Uruguayan Tannat is stellar, but it's a tough sell. I like Chile for its price point.

Which brings me to the United States. In California, I encourage you to stock up on Mendocino County wines before the prices get prohibitive. Lake County is producing some nice inexpensive stuff and the Sierra Foothills is underappreciated for its quality. We'll see some more emerging AVAs from the Central Valley producing wines of quality, akin to what we've seen from Lodi AVA and Clarksburg AVA. I dislike Washington and Oregon's nice but expensive. I'm very intrigued about what's coming out of Arizona and think that's a region to watch. I'm underfamiliar with New York wine, but I like Caberner Franc. I also like wines from Western Virginia and North Carolina, but it's expensive to get the wine out here and production is still too small for real value.

In conclusion? Mendocino, Sierra Foothills, Croatia, Portugal, and Arizona.


Zack said...

How does Franzia fit into all this?

Jeff said...

I had a really interesting Croatian wine at Providence recently called Babich by Bibich. It was good enough for me to pick up a couple of bottles later. The wine is a blend; one of the grapes is Babich. Spicy, minerally, and with good acids. You can still pick it up at K&L for 16$. It's different and interesting. They've got a few other Croatian wines too, which I'm going to get around to trying one of these days.