Everyone loves lists. Okay, maybe I should just state that I love lists, and since I haven’t posted a list in quite some time, it’s only right that today be the day. Here is a list of my favorite wine regions. It’s not perfect because it doesn’t account for specific regions of a state or country which may be the reason that they have been included. I will try to reflect a bit on regions in the narrative.
TOP TEN FAVORITE WINE REGIONS
1. CALIFORNIA – In my estimation, no other state or country offers the quality and variety found in California. From outstanding Cabernets in all price ranges to soft, fragrant Pinot Noirs that rival the best of Burgundy, California sits at the top of my list. A visit to Napa/Sonoma, or any of the other fantastic wine-growing areas is like a pilgrimage to Mecca for any true wine-lover.
2. FRANCE – Many would have these first two regions reversed but to me, I have to slide France just under the Golden State. I love the wines of Bordeaux, Chateau Neuf du Pape, the Cotes du Rhone and many other smaller appellations. Quite often my wallet prevents me from truly knowing the joys of Burgundy but, overall, there is much to enjoy in the wines of France which on the nose and the palate reveal so much about the place from whence they came.
3. Oregon – This one made the list almost exclusively because of their Pinot Noirs. For those of you not familiar with this grape, it offers a much softer taste than most red wines. The best of these have very fragrant bouquets of lavender and soft cherries and they are a red wine that will go well with lots of different dishes including both chicken and fish.
4. SPAIN – Don’t have a lot of money but you wanna drink some good wine? No country in the world currently produces more value wines than Spain. For less than $10.00 you can find something good to drink every night for months without repeating the same wine twice. It’s fun to just experiment with these wines and the Tempranillo, Monastrell, Garnacha and combinations of each of these grapes create some tasty and food friendly wines.
5. ARGENTINA - Don’t you dare cry for Argentina. They have taken the Malbec grape which originated in the Cahors region of France and brought it to a new level. This wine is a favorite of several of our dinner companions and it’s always a welcome addition with a wide variety of foods.
6. AUSTRALIA – A few years ago the Land Down Under may have held even a higher spot on my Top Ten Regions List. It may have slipped a little but it’s hard not to enjoy a well made Shiraz. The wines of Oz are full of deep rich flavors and they are diversified enough so that you can find excellent cabernets and pinot noirs. My favorite wine of all time is STILL the 2001 Shirvington Shiraz from McLaren Vale, Australia.
7. ITALY – So many fine wines from so many regions of Italia. Anyone who has ever visited Italy returns with rave reviews on how good the simple wines were that accompanied each meal. Back home we can choose a simple Chianti or the more regal Barolo’s or Brunello’s. You can spend a little or you can spend a lot but the Sangiovese and Nebbiolo grapes shine with the rich sauces and pasta dishes that seem to have been made for these wines.
8. GERMANY – I’ve never been crazy about white wines but whenever the situation calls for a crisp white wine, Germany is my region of choice. The Reisling grape is done to perfection in a couple of the hilly regions of Germany. The sweet apple, pear, and peach flavors that shine through a quality Spatlese and blend with the ever-present minerality is the perfect accompaniment to lots of lighter foods.
9. WASHINGTON – Sneaking into my Top Ten is the third state known for its wine production, Washington. This area is home to some top-notch producers who make some very nice cabernets and red blends. Solid, if not spectacular wineries such as Columbia Crest and Chateau St. Michelle provide excellent choices at very reasonable prices.
10. NEW ZEALAND - The Kiwis are known primarily for their zesty Sauvignon Blanc, a great summer sipper for those of you who enjoy white wines. Personally, I skip the whites and search for some of the Pinot Noirs and exciting red blends that hail from this area. They don’t get a lot of press but several areas of New Zealand are producing some first-class wines on a regular basis.
There you have it. My Top Ten Wine Regions, subject to change as the years go by.