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Three Lesser Known (but Up and Coming) Wine Regions

Not all the world’s finest wines are from France and Italy. Many come from America, Australia and beyond these days and every year there is another country vying for supremacy in the wine stakes. Here we’re looking at some lesser known wine regions which are becoming known in the modern market for the quality of their wines. Many of these areas have been producing wines for centuries but they have only recently achieved acclaim on an international standard. Here are just three regions whose wines are definitely worth trying:

Bulgaria

Bulgaria is better known for its swathes of sandy beaches, unexpected great value ski resorts and beautiful countryside than for its wine. However, Bulgaria has been a thriving wine producer for over 5000 years. The first wines grown in the region were produced by the ancient Thracian people.

It has played host to the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles on more than one occasion and it stands out as a leading wine producer in the East of Europe. It is in fact the country with the most awards wines in the whole of Central and Eastern Europe. It has won 109 medals to date and is becoming more popular around the world.

There are 44 registered native grape varieties in Bulgaria. These include Mavrud, Dimyat and Rubin. Our Bulgarian wines include this Domaine Bessa Valley Enira.

Lebanon

Lebanon and particularly the Bekaa Valley are regularly critiqued and their wines are becoming more and more popular. Lebanon is one of the world’s oldest wine production regions. Winemaking can be dated back to around 780-725BC. Since 1998 wine production in Lebanon has been on the up, with only 5 wineries back then to 30+ today.

Lebanese winemakers are known for following the French tradition. French grapes are popular but there are also many interesting and diverse indigenous grapes. The indigenous grapes of Lebanon include Merweh and the popular and well-loved Obedieh. Most of the red grapes grown in Lebanon are not native grapes and are popular French varietals. We stock a range of Lebanese wines including this Ixsir Altitudes Red.

Slovenia

Slovenian wine has been in production since well before the Romans introduced wine to France, Spain and Germany. It is one of the ancient winemaking areas and despite this its wine have not achieved the same success as those of Western Europe. There are over 28,000 individual wineries in Slovenia and the country produces over 80 million litres of wine every year. It is a country which focuses on white wine production, with 75% of all produced in the country being white.

Slovenia has strict wine laws which means all of their wines are assigned a quality level, as set by their Zaščiteno geografsko poreklo (ZGP), which is a similar organisation to the EU’s Quality Wines Produced in Specified Regions. There wines range from those classified as table wines to premium quality wine. Our range of Slovenian wines includes this Guerila Barbera Selection Primorska.

 

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The History of Shiraz

The Syrah grape, which is more commonly known as Shiraz, is grown throughout the world. It is a leading varietal in red wine production. The origins of the Shiraz grape have been analysed and traced and it has a DNA mix between two rare grapes from the southeast of France.

One of the two grapes, Dureza, has all but disappeared from modern vineyards, but the other, Mondeuse Blanche, is still found in small numbers in a few vineyards in France.

The name of the grape, Syrah, is used in its home country of France, as well as in the rest of Europe. It was only thanks to Australia that the name Shiraz came to be. Once the Australians began producing their wines named Shiraz, the grape itself became known with the same name too.

With regards to the growing popularity of the grape, this is largely thanks to wines that were made in Hermitage, in northern Rhône. These wines have gathered an excellent reputation over the years, and are known to be both powerful and high quality in equal measure.

In 1831, the traveller James Busby, who originated from Scotland, visited the Continent and took cuttings from several vines back to his new home of Australia. He then went to work planting and cultivating the vines. Within just three decades of the grape’s arrival in the country, it became a key varietal. Australia produces some of the world’s most exceptional Shiraz-based wines.

Shiraz Today

Today, the grape is still the most popular grown in the whole of the northern Rhône. It is used in a number of classic wines which are drunk all over the world. It is quite popular for use as a blending grape, thanks to its ability to work well with other varietals to form a fuller and more textured wine. It has a quality to make up for full-bodied characteristics that other grapes often lack.

The wines that the Shiraz grape are a part of tend to have incredibly concentrated flavours, and as a result of this they are much better if they have been aged for a period of time – usually recommended to be about 15 years, or longer if possible.

Over the years, Shiraz wine has grown in popularity, and thanks to the taste of the grape this is a trend that is only set to continue. This is great news for vineyards that still choose to specialise in this type of grape – as they can be sure that doing so is a good investment into the future of their business.

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Demand for Wine Education Increases

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The wine education charity, WSET, has reported a significant increase in the number of students taking their exams. They offer a range of wine and spirit related examinations which allow people to develop their interest in wine or improve their education in the area. In the last year there was 17% increase in the number of students sitting their exams which amounted to over 72,000 more students.

 

Specifically, in the UK there were more than 17,077 WSET candidates, a 14% increase and there was also huge growth in mainland China and in the USA, where more and more people are taking an interest in wine and spirit education.

 

This interest in the wines and spirits sector is both related to a genuine interest from the wider population but also because more people want to work in an industry they feel passionate about. WSET’s Chief Executive Ian Harris commented: “The wine and spirits industry continues to be a dynamic sector and we are committed to supporting its ongoing success through quality, fit-for-purpose education and training,”

 

 

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The Wine and Spirit Education Trust

The Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) is a UK-based organisation, with headquarters in London. It is recognised as a world-leading organisation in wine education and they offer four levels of awards including Wine Service, Wine in general and Wine and Spirits.

Individuals taking the exams and courses organised by WSET include professional sommeliers, wine enthusiasts and collectors.

Alternative Wine Education

Many wine lovers like the idea of knowing and discovering more about their favourite drink, but are not interested in formal education. Many wineries offer tours and many people take wine holidays, enjoying whole regions and travelling from winery to winery. There is also the option of enjoying wine tastings, where you can both enjoy new flavours and learn more about the wines on offer.

At the Fine Wine Company, we regularly hold wine tasting events, aimed at showing off fine examples from our dynamic range of wines. Our next event is taking place on 25th November and will be held at Brunton Hall in Musselburgh. Our special events give you the chance to taste some of our favourites and perhaps discover a new favourite of your own.

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Wine regions and producers

Barossa Valley

The Barossa Valley is one of Australia’s oldest wine regions. It is in South Australia to the north east of Adelaide. Much of the wine produced in Australia is highly influenced by Britain, but in the Barossa Valley it is the German influence which stand out.

The hot and Continental Europe style climate in Barossa Valley makes it perfect for producing very ripe, juice grapes and therefore it played a key role in the growth of Australia’s fortified wine company.

Barossa Valley is known for its high quality shiraz and many shiraz wines in the valley are several decades old. Other popular grape varieties in the area include Grenache, Mourvedre, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon and Semillon. At The Fine Wine Company, we have a range of Barossa Valley wines for you to enjoy.

McLaren Vale

McLaren Vale is a prominent South Australian wine region. It is just south of Adelaide and it is known for the exceptional standard of the wines it produces and exports. It is a region known for its rich red wines but there are white grapes grown in the region too.

The most prominent wines in the McLaren Vale region are made from Shiraz, Grenache, Mourvedre, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The most popular white wine varieties in the region are Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Semillon. At the Fine Wine Company we have sourced a selection of quality McLaren Vale wines from their finest wineries, giving you the chance to sample the flavours of the area.

Clare Valley

The Clare Valley wine region is one of the older wine regions Australia has to offer. It is best known for its refreshing Rieslings and is in the mid-north of South Australia. It runs from the north to the south of its area and has the perfect climate for growing quality Riesling grapes, as well as other varietals.

Alongside Riesling as the champion white grape of the region, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz are the leading red grapes. Other lesser grown varietals include Chardonnay, Tempranillo, Grenache and Pinot Noir. The Clare Valley region is responsible for around 2% of Australia’s national grape crush yet they have picked up a much higher percentage of Australian wine medals, showing that quality reigns over quantity in this region. You can explore our range of Clare Valley wines below.

 

D’Arenberg

One of the most recognisable and acclaimed wineries of McLaren Vale, Australia, d’Arenberg has been around since the early 20th century. Founded in 1912 their wines have been popular for many years and they have had a natural approach to winemaking from day one.

Minimal input viticulture is at the heart of d’Arenberg and they have an environmentally approach too. They use traditional winemaking methods including basket pressing for both their white and red wines. They are the only winery in Australia to basket press both types of wine due to the intense nature of the process. However, d’Arenberg believe the results are worth it. You can explore The Fine Wine Company d’Arenberg wine range below.

Valdespino

One of Spain’s most famous and oldest sherry makers, the family behind Valdespino has been around for at least 700 years. Valdespino is now part of the much larger Grupo Estevez. Valdespino has been cultivating and ageing sherry wines since the 13th century. It became recognised by the 19th century as a purveyor of Sherry to the Royal House of Spain and in 1932 they were recognised under the same terms but to the Royal House of Sweden.

Valdespino sherries are acclaimed worldwide. They are unique as they produce the only sherry wine which is fermented in oak barrels, as most are now fermented in stainless steel tanks. At The Fine Wine Company, we offer a wide range of Valdespino sherries, including single bottles and cases.

Tenuta Olim Bauda

Tenuta Olim Baude is a Piedmont winery, in the Asti region. It is a family owned and managed business and it has passed down from father to son for many years. Their wines are classic and produced using sustainable growing methods. The three Bertolino brothers now at the helm are experts in winemaking and have studied the processes and art for very closely to ensure their wines are always of the highest quality.

All the wines grown on the Olim Bauda Estate are grown using sustainable viticulture, with no use of chemical weed killers. They grow Moscato and Barbera grape varietals and stay true to their Italian roots with their grape choices and wine blends. At The Fine Wine Company we have a range of different Tenuta Olim Bauda wines for your to sample.

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Five of our Finest Chardonnays

chardonnay glass

At the Fine Wine Company, we offer a diverse range of different wines and one of the leading white wines has almost always been Chardonnay. Named for the green-skinned grape which it is made from, Chardonnay is one of the most widely planted grape varietals in the world and this in turn ensures there are thousands of different Chardonnays to taste and enjoy. Our range of Chardonnays has offerings from around the world and here we are looking at just five.

Nicolas Catena Chardonnay, 2013

Combining the unique expressions of three individual high altitude vineyard sites, this 2013 Catena Chardonnay is complex and full of fresh, typically Chardonnay flavours. It’s an intense green in colour with hints of yellow and the flavour brings together classic tropical fruits with a more unique honeyed aftertaste. Fresh and clean with lots of acidity, this is an Argentinian Chardonnay which ticks every box.

Craggy Range Kidnappers Chardonnay, 2012

Named after an area not far from where is it produced, Cape Kidnappers, Craggy Range Kidnappers Chardonnay, 2012, is a pale straw-coloured offering. Its aroma is floral with notes of honeysuckle and toasted almond. Its flavour is subtle yet fresh with grapefruit and peach and the finish is of a salty/briny character. The producers at Craggy Range use traditional winemaking techniques seen in Chablis in France when producing their Kidnappers Chardonnay.

Greywacke Chardonnay, 2013

There is a nutty, almost savoury flavour to this New Zealand Chardonnay from Greywacke. It brings together a surprising combination of pink grapefruit, baked apples and fig, with an undertone of toasted hazelnuts. The nutty savoury flavour of this wine makes it fresh and crisp on the palate. Greywacke is known for its world-leading Sauvignon Blanc, but the Chardonnay does not disappoint either.

 

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Les Mougeottes Chardonnay IGP Pays D’OC, 2015

A white Burgundy that delivers on flavour as well as price, Les Mougeottes Chardonnay 2015 has all the hallmarks of a great white wine. Soft and tempting buttery notes are teamed with the light tropical flavours that are essential for a good Chardonnay. It is a light and subtly flavoured wine which is refreshing and ultimately drinkable.

MadFish Unwooded Chardonnay, 2013

With its unique name and equally unique flavour, Madfish Unwooded Chardonnay is a fine example of a Chardonnay which has a helping hand from a couple of other varietals. This Chardonnay combines a blend that is mainly made up of Chardonnay but also includes a small percentage of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, adding an herbaceous edge to its character. Melon, grapefruit and citrus characters combine and end in a long, crisp acidic note.

The Fine Wine Company white wines offer a diverse choice, with single bottle and case options and our range of Chardonnays ensures you can find a flavour to suit your tastes.