The New Up-And-Coming Wine Regions To Watch
When it comes to naming classic wine regions, it’s fairly easy to rattle off a list of icons. There’s France’s Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne, America’s Napa Valley and Italy’s Tuscany. Australian wine regions such as the Barossa Valley and Margaret River have also made names for themselves both at home and abroad. But what about Crimea’s Sevastopol region? Or Hungary’s Villány and Tokaj wine producers?
Milennials are drinking more wine than Baby Boomers, so it makes sense that as our appetite for a good drop grows, we’ll be seeing new wine regions popping up across the globe hoping to capitalise on it. Simultaneously, climate change is forcing winemakers to diversify where they grow grapes. Traditional grape-growing regions tend to have been in places with warm, dry summers and mild winters, but successive seasons have seen crops reduced or destroyed completely by bushfires, cold springs and lacklustre rainfall. Though there were a few good years, where warmer temperatures meant an earlier harvest and thus better wine, the increase in heat has continued, meaning less-than-ideal conditions for grape growing. As these events become ever more common, studies are showing that areas further north in the northern hemisphere, and further south in the southern hemisphere could step in to fill the void. So, what are the wine regions we should be looking out for as the global wine map shifts?
Villány and Tokaj, Hungary
While Hungary’s winemaking tradition can be dated back to around 1,000 years ago, chances are its products haven’t yet made an appearance in your wine cellar — despite the fact that up until the 19th century it was one of Europe’s most important wine producing regions. It’s appearing back on the radar, finally, after the fall of Communism and the combination of traditional Hungarian winemaking techniques with modern tastes. Look out for full-bodied Kadarka red wines, popular in Eastern Europe, and Syrahs, as well as lesser-known (in Australia, at least) dry white varietals like Hárslevelű and Királyleányka.
While we can all agree that climate change is generally a bad thing, it is proving useful in the south of England, where the same chalky soil that has helped Champagne’s wine industry thrive is found. This, combined with increasing average temperatures, is the impetus for hundreds of wineries springing up, more than 50% of which are making sparkling whites. Keep an eye out for wines from the Sussex South Downs, which is just 88 miles from France’s Champagne region, and is only set to grow as temperatures rise.
A 2013 study found that up to 73% of land currently used in Australia for viticulture could be unusable by 2050. So, as vineyards in Victoria, South Australia and NSW grow ever-hotter, creating increasingly difficult conditions for grape-growing, winemakers are looking further south for cooler climates. Mega wine brand Brown Brothers started buying up land in Tasmania in 2010, as a response to the shorter harvest time afforded them by climate change. Likewise, premium winemakers Penfolds has started swapping Hunter Valley vineyards for Tassie’s Tamar Valley to mitigate the effects of global warming. While the region currently produces top-notch pinot noir, sparkling and chardonnay, this will change over time as Tasmania’s climate comes to more resemble its mainland neighbours, which could be conducive to Shiraz and Vermentino.
Typically relying on a Mediterranean-style climate, with hot days and cool evenings, Chile was producing great Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignons for decades, and over the last 15 years has doubled its wine output. However, wine makers are heading south, to areas such as La Union that used to be too cold and wet to grow wine grapes, to try and beat the heat, which has the potential to kill off the grape varieties traditionally grown in the country. Rainfall in this area has dropped by 20 to 30 percent in the past 50 years, meaning it is slowly becoming more favourable for grapes. Expect amazing Pinot Noirs from this region, capitalising on the acidity of southern soil.
While Crimea has been the focus of much turmoil in recent years — namely annexation from the Ukraine by Russia — the wine industry in Sevastopol has been quietly chugging along. The nascent region is still finding its feet, but has been particularly successful in creating Pinot Noirs, Rieslings and Chardonnays. Most of the area’s export market has been forced to focus on Russia since annexation — but this is no bad thing, as Russian wine consumption increases by around 5% each year. The wine, mainly from boutique producers, is available outside of Russia, but is still difficult to find — hopes are high that once the region stabilises, the wine industry will be opened to the world’s wine cellars.
Published 26 June, 2018