Wines Around the World
Issue: Jul 2023
It is a common misconception to believe that grape varietals have the ability to not only survive, but to also thrive in any environment. Like any other plant, each variety of wine grape has certain traits that can be accentuated by the region it is grown in. Common factors that influence a wine grape's ability to grow based off of the region are elevation, moisture, soil composition, competition, daily sun exposure, and temperature.
Each factor has the ability to influence characteristics including tannins, berry ripeness, sugar levels, phenolics, berry size, and much more. These characteristics may seem unimportant when enjoying a glass of wine, but when you take a sip of a hillside cabernet sauvignon from Alexander Valley and notice a full body with balancing acidity, with both floral and mineral notes, you can attribute much of that to the region.
The importance of this is to understand that certain wine grapes thrive in different regions of the world, and can bring unique characteristics to your wine. Because of that, it is important to understand different region’s most notable wine varietals for the next time you go to the store.
Here are a few of the most notable wine regions in the world, both old world and new world, and what they are known for!
France is an interesting wine country due to the strict and specific viticultural and enological restrictions for their regions. Although there are many notable wine regions in France, I will only touch on a few of the most prominent regions.
Bordeaux is one of, if not the most influential wine regions for old world wine, being that it is the grandfather for merlot, cabernet sauvignon, sauvignon blanc and sémillon. This region is commonly split up by the left bank and right bank of the Gironde river. The left bank is home to the famous Médoc and Graves whereas the right bank includes Libournais, Bourg and Blaye. Most commonly these are distinctive from one another because the left bank is made up primarily of cabernet sauvignon whereas the right bank is dominated by merlot.
Burgundy, a little simpler than Bordeaux, is famous for two particular wines… pinot noir and chardonnay. While a majority of French wines are blends, and not varietal specific, Bordeaux’s classic blend is normally dominated by either of these two varietals. Burgundy is known for hot summers and cold winters, but is home to many microclimates due to the variable slopes, hills and vineyard orientations.
Marlborough - New Zealand
Marlborough is by far New Zealand’s largest, and most prominent wine region, famous for its sauvignon blanc, and making up more than 75% of the country’s wine production. To go with that statistic, sauvignon blanc contributes to 85% of Marlborough’s regional wine production. Marlborough is a seaside region, with large coastal effects on the climate. This, along with the long growing season due to the sunny, and dry autumn, help shape the sauvignon blanc berries to create their unique characteristics. Those characteristics being green pepper, gooseberry, and the fan favorite “cat’s pee”.
Mendoza - Argentina
Mendoza, the most famous wine region in not only Argentina, but all of South America, provides more than 70% of its country’s wine production. The region is considered one of the most unique in the world. It sits at the bottom of the Andes and some vineyards scale to an elevation higher than 36,000 feet above sea level. The Andes create a large umbrella for the region, making it an arid, dry region that often relies on flood irrigation.
One of the most interesting things about wine production in Mendoza is that their most popular wine is malbec, which in most regions is commonly used to blend. Beyond that, they have a decent sized production of more common varietals like, cabernet sauvignon, tempranillo and chardonnay.
Rioja - Spain
Rioja is arguably the prominent wine region of Spain, only rivaled by Jerez, best known for its large production of fruit forward red wines. The most common wines you will find from this region are tempranillo and garnacha.
Piedmont - Italy
Sitting in the northwestern corner of Italy, Piedmont produces exceptional and unique wines like the Barbaresco, made with grapes of the varietal, Nebbiolo. The most interesting part of this region is that there is another subregion that makes wine from Nebbiolo fruit, but it is called Barolo. Now, these can be considered similar wines, but there are key differences. Barbaresco comes from a more nutrient dense soil and gives off a lower tannin level than Barolo. Barolo has been around much longer, and their regulations force Barolo to be aged one more year than Barbaresco!
Tuscany - Italy
This region in central Italy is home to eight amazing subregions, including Chianti Classico, which is one of the most popular appellations in all of Italy. One of the most special features of this region is their signature red and white grape varietals that have made them a staple of the wine community. The red grape is Sangiovese, a higher acid red grape, and is the backbone for the entire Tuscany region. The white grape is Trebbiano, and it is the staple of the Tuscany region’s white wines.
There are many other notable regions that are not mentioned in this blog. Don’t let that stop you from researching and finding out what wines you should look at acquiring from those areas, and growing your knowledge of wine!
Most wine regions are known for a specific varietal or two, and it is important as a consumer to understand that. Usually, they are known for these varieties due to geographical influences that allow certain grapes to grow more efficiently and successfully than others. All of that plays a role in the quality of wine you are going to be storing with Winebanc.
Winebanc has private, exclusive, and elegant wine cellars in various sizes, with 24/7 customer access across 3 locations conveniently located in the heart of Singapore. Visit us at www.winebanc.wine or contact us at 6955 9788 for more information!