We’re all familiar with big name wine regions – Bordeaux, Napa Valley, Barossa Valley etc – but what about those up-and-coming wine regions you don’t usually hear about? Chris Moon of ValueChampion looks at four of them.
by Chris Moon, Product Manager for ValueChampion
With an estimated 26 billion litres of wine produced in 2020, it’s clear that the global wine industry has the momentum to push past the unprecedented challenge posed by the coronavirus pandemic. Enterprising vintners are putting down roots in previously undeveloped regions, offering consumers an ever-broader selection of terroirs and techniques.
The competition for recognition in the global market creates opportunities for consumers to discover wine from emerging regions that deliver a higher quality than their current pricing might suggest.
We take a look at some of the most promising of these newer areas and the wines they specialise in.
1. Kakheti, Georgia
Typical bottle price: S$32 – S$70
Noteworthy grapes: Saperavi, Rkatsiteli
Despite possessing one of the oldest winemaking traditions in the world, Georgia wasn’t on the radar for modern wine enthusiasts until a few years ago. The country’s Kakheti region has been under vine for millennia, and the same winemaking techniques persist today. Georgia’s long wine history has also bestowed its vintners with 400 to 500 indigenous varieties of grape to blend and experiment with.
These ancient qualities result in a wine that’s strikingly different from conventional reds and whites – and perhaps undervalued for that reason. Traditional Kakheti wine is fermented in the earth, stored within large clay vessels called qvevri. Together with a tannin-rich fermentation process that includes grape skins and stems, this imbues the amber-colored wine with layers of fruit that bloom over time in your glass.
2. Cachapoal, Central Valley, Chile
Typical bottle price: S$18 – S$40
Noteworthy grapes: Carmenère, Cabernet Sauvignon
Chile’s dry climate reduces the need for pesticides and the risk of rain interfering with harvesting of grapes. Breezes from the Pacific are moderated by coastal mountains, making nights up to twenty degrees cooler than the sunny days. This draws out the ripening process and also ensures consistent growing conditions from year to year, allowing Chile to put out consistently strong vintages.
While a number of regions in the country have already become well-known representatives of Chilean wine – Colchagua being the best example – the Cachapoal Valley is still in the early phase of making a name for itself. It encompasses Cabernet Sauvignon territory in the Andes foothills to the east as well as fertile soil in the west ideal for Chile’s signature grape, the Carmenère. Expect well-balanced wines delivering berry aromas reminiscent of merlot.
3. Texas Hill Country, United States
Typical bottle price: S$24 – S$48
Noteworthy grapes: Chenin Blanc, Tempranillo
Texas Hill Country is making its way to the forefront of wine production in the United States, certainly in quantity but more recently in quality too. Local demand for the region’s wine is so high that it’s difficult to try a glass unless you visit yourself. Once you’re there, however, you’ll find that the prices for bottles and cases are supremely affordable – and paired with the ever-increasing level of execution, a real bargain.
The sprawling size and hilly landscape of Texas Hill Country means that it includes multiple micro-regions suited to growing a variety of grapes. Besides the omnipresent Cabernet Sauvignon, the region produces ample amounts of Chenin Blanc which is often blended with Chardonnay. The area’s hot days and cool nights also bring out the best in the versatile Tempranillo grape, which can range from sweet fruitiness to a more tannic maturation.
4. Orange, New South Wales, Australia
Typical bottle price: S$32 – S$40
Noteworthy grapes: Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc
Australian wine is already ably represented by names like Barossa and the Eden Valley, but there are consistent efforts to explore and claim more of the country’s vast expanses in the name of winemaking. Orange is home to one such new endeavour, standing out due to its higher elevation and volcanic soil.
Sitting 300 kilometres west of Sydney, this region specialises in Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc, which develop unique properties in the cooler climate and unusual mixture of soils available to growers. For instance, you can expect Syrahs from Orange to pack a bit more spice than sweetness compared to their peers bottled in other regions of Australia.
Chris Moon is a Product Manager for ValueChampion with years of experience in addressing critical questions about insurance and banking products through financial analysis. He spends his time evaluating insurance providers and policy features to understand where consumers might find the most cost-effective coverage. Chris has contributed insights to the New York Times and many other publications. Prior to joining ValueChampion, Chris worked as a product manager at ValuePenguin analysing banking and insurance products in the US.