Emerging Regions: The wine roads less travelled
We know that wine is made all over the world. Loads of different countries with different grape varieties, climates and wine styles. And it has been this way for hundreds of years! Our wine experience has traditionally centered on European or ‘Old World’ regions: France, Italy, Spain, Germany, the source of the most highly renowned wines in the world. Many of these countries would regard themselves as the original home of wine. And then as people from these countries emigrated to the ‘New World’ they took vines with them. This is how countries like Australia, America, Chile, South Africa started to develop their own wine trade. While we still refer to them as New World, these countries have been making wine for hundreds of years too now. Although arguably it is only with the advent of better technology in wine, and a more global market that they have been able to export the quantities and qualities of wines that we are now able to enjoy.
So what’s next?
Well, there are in fact many other countries that make wine, that we only see in small quantities or not at all, as some still just do not export their wines. These are the regions that are currently known as ‘Emerging’ wine regions. Those which are building their reputation in the UK market. And there are a lot of them, some which might surprise you: think Croatia, Turkey, Georgia, Lebanon, Japan, Thailand and even wines grown on our very own British soils. Each of these regions might conjure up different images. Some are associated with bulk production of not particularly good wines, some are associated with small production of great wines, and some are still relatively unheard of. But give it a few years and all of that will change! These regions all have their own unique styles of wines, and gradually they are getting better in terms of quality and bigger in terms of quantity. These will be the next places we look to for new wines.
However, while these wines may be new to us, most of these countries have again had some form of wine production going back centuries. Georgia for example, is often referred to as the birth place of wine. But historical economic, geographic and political factors have meant that these wines just did not make it over to us. But now that has changed. If you look hard enough you can find wines from some of these more unusual regions in many supermarkets. And from them there is a whole new range of diverse and interesting wine styles. Many of these countries have their own indigenous varieties, that can make beautiful and unique wines. They will not be familiar to us, and many of them provide a challenge when it comes to pronunciation, but they are definitely worth a look. So if you don’t know your Koshu from your Kalecik Karasi, or your Furmint from your Feteasca Neagra, maybe it’s time you started checking things out.
So, where to start?
There are some of these wines appearing in high street shops: M&S and Waitrose being a good place to start. You will also find some in specialist wine shops such as The Wine Society, and many of the independents. Or, you can go to a tasting! South London Wine School has just announced a 4 week Emerging Wine Regions course for October, looking at different countries each week. Full information and dates can be found here. If you want to get an overview and taste a bunch of great wines, this is a great place to do it!
Whatever you do, we hope you enjoy your vinous voyage of discovery. And we’d love to hear about the great wines you find along the way!