THIS week I have been spoilt for choice surveying the world to choose my top ten wine regions to watch this year.
With a mix of international grapes and a treasure trove of native varietals – and vast tracts of vineyards to replant from table to classic wine grapes – Turkey is worth keeping an eye on in the next decade. From coastal Mediterranean to inland continental climates, there are multiple opportunities for growers. Turkey is just starting to turn heads with impressive white sauvignon blanc from around the Aegean, white narince from Anatolia and juicy red cabernet sauvignon, merlot and syrah from Thrace.
Wineries to watch: Sevilen, Corvus, Kayra and Kavaklidere.
If you love New Zealand sauvignon, check out beautiful Slovenia, which has been providing thrilling sauvignon blanc as well as pinot gris, malvasia, merlot and pinot noir from very promising terroir. Western Slovenia neighbours Italy’s finest white region of Friuli. Wineries to watch: Verus, Dveri Pax, Kogl and Tilia.
Rioja lovers should take note. Cigales, just north of the river Duero, is overshadowed by its famous higher-priced Ribera del Duero neighbour, but this small region is making sensational value tempranillo reds (same grape as rioja) at cracking prices. Winery to watch: La Legua.
From the coastal areas of Val di Cornia, Suvereto, Scansano, Pitigliano and inland to the new DOC Montecucco just south of Montalcino, Tuscany’s wild remote Maremma is exciting wine country for wine lovers. Surprise success stories include pinot noir, sangiovese and merlot. Wineries to watch: Castello di Potentino, Incontri and Sassotondo.
WAITAKI, NEW ZEALAND
The first grapes planted in 2000 by Howard Paterson are showing huge potential in this pioneering corner of north east Otago in South Island. Vines are still young and frost is a danger here, but this is exciting wine country for pinot noir lovers, with new vines planted on limestone. Now cult Kiwi winemakers are hunting down Waitaki plots for pinot gris and pinot noir. Winery to watch: Waitaki Valley.
Istria in north west Croatia, near the Italian and Slovenian border, benefits from a cool Mediterranean climate and a growing band of passionate enterprising pioneers making vibrant malvazija, riesling, pinot gris whites and more. Wineries to watch: Pilato, Bodren, Bienvenuti, Coronica, Kabola, Roxanich and Bruno Trapani.
ELIM, SOUTH AFRICA
Startlingly fresh vivid sauvignon blanc and pure juicy fruit syrah has been emerging from this far tip of Africa in Cape Aguilhas’ southerly district – the cool maritime breezes give a vibrant freshness to the wines. Wineries to watch: Zoetendal, Strandveld, Lands End and Trizanne.
This island has almost as much vineyard land as Australia. After long stagnation, we are slowly seeing the potential for fine value juicy white fiano, red nero d’avola and Burgundian-like nerello mascalese. Wineries to watch: Planeta, Graci and Terre Nere.
Long forgotten by bargain claret lovers, it is time for red wine lovers to revisit. After years in the doldrums, southern Bulgaria’s Thracian Lowlands – near the Greek and Turkish borders – is turning out great value pinot noir, syrah and merlot to fine native red mavrud from international investors. Wineries to watch: Edoardo Miroglio, Bessa Valley, Malkata Zvezhda and Katarzyna.
I have been so impressed with Greece’s incredible native varieties, from juicy white assyrtiko to red tsapournakos, malagousia, mavrotragano and mavroudi. Regions to watch: Santorini island and Western Macedonia. Wineries to watch: Ktima Biblia Chora, Voyatzi, Mitravelas and Gerovassiliou.
WINE OF THE WEEK
Chateau d’Angles Classique Rouge 2009 (£11.49, Peckhams, Edinburgh and Glasgow)
This hails from another exciting appellation to watch: La Clape in France’s southern Languedoc. Eric Fabre (ex-Chateau Lafite in Bordeaux) makes a superb value meaty savoury winter warming syrah/grenache/mourvedre blend.