One of the many exciting things about the world of wine is how it changes and adapts. New regions are always emerging or being rediscovered
Lauren Denyer, Wine Educator at the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), introduces five emerging regions for you to explore.
Sierra de Gredos, Spain
In the Sierra de Gredos mountains west of Madrid, you’ll find some fantastic wines made solely from Garnacha—one of Spain's most important grape varieties. Wine has been made here for a very long time, but it has only been truly quality-focused in the last 10-20 years—driven by young, upcoming local winemakers. Expect extremely fruit-forward crunchy berry flavours, with fairly high alcohol balanced by real freshness on the palate.
"Expect extremely fruit-forward crunchy berry flavours"
Quite a few producers here offer “lower intervention” styles, so this region is perfect for natural wine lovers. While this part of Spain has yet to become widely known, it has recently made its way onto the WSET Level 4 Diploma in Wines syllabus—the flagship wine qualification from the world’s leading provider of wine qualifications.
In Patagonia (Southern Argentina, nearing the Antarctic), wine producers have been exploring the potential for growing cooler climate grape varieties while also rediscovering some historic grape-growing regions.
Río Negro, in the northern part of Patagonia, is home to some terrific old vines and has received investment from several well-established premium European producers. A bit further west, Neuquén is a very new region—with plantings of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and of course Malbec. These styles are made in very modern wineries and are fresh, pure and fruit-driven. The furthest south is Chubut, where you’ll find highly aromatic Riesling and Gewürztraminer.
Through trial and improvement over the past 30 years, English wine producers have been striving to produce world class wines—with great success. The WSET Diploma now features English sparkling wines, which are often likened to Champagne and made with the same grape varieties using the same traditional method.
Sussex and Kent are already well-established wine producing areas, but the Crouch Valley in Essex is one of the warmest and driest parts of the UK with a clay soil well-suited to grape growing. Due to their high quality, many of their grapes are now sold to more famous wineries outside the county, but it also has a few boutique producers selling their own wines—this is sure to increase. Look out for great bubbles and still Chardonnay and Pinot Gris wines.
Portugal is most famous for its traditional Port wines from the Douro region, but other innovative regions are producing many exciting new wine styles. Alentejo in the south of Portugal, east of Lisbon, is just one of these regions.
Surrounded by olive trees and glorious weather, there are many reasons to visit Alentejo—and wine is definitely one of them. Since 2010, Alentejo wine has dominated the local market, but not much of it has reached our shores yet. The region has become so important recently that a number of influential producers from the Douro have started producing wine there.
"Among the many reasons to love Alentejo wines are their excellent value and overt fruity character"
Among the many reasons to love Alentejo wines are their excellent value and overt fruity character. These wines are made with a range of grape varieties, including international names such as Syrah/Shiraz and local varieties such as Aragonez (Tempranillo in Spain) and the very local Trincadeira. As for the white wines, you can find fantastic Alvarinho (Albariño in Spain) and Viognier here too.
There is also a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) in Alentejo dedicated to amphora wines. These historic wines, called “Vinho de Talha”, date from the Roman times—so, while not exactly “emerging”, they are still not widely known on a global scale.
Pays d’Oc (rosé), France
The Pays d’Oc in the South of France incorporates the large region of Languedoc and produces vast amounts of wine—so, if you’re a wine lover, it’s already likely to be on your radar. However, many people don’t know that the Pays d’Oc is France’s largest producer of rosé wines.
Rosé is a category often associated with Provence, but unlike the Provençal, winemakers in the Pays d’Oc are not limited to producing a specific style of wine from certain grape varieties. They have the luxury of making beautiful, delicate rosé wines with whatever grape variety, or combination of varieties, they choose. You’ll find everything from light and juicy Pinot Noir through to spicy, herbal Syrah and juicy Grenache.
"This part of France is home to the most expensive and arguably one of the most complex rosés on the planet"
The possibilities are endless, as are the production methods—there are even some complex oak-aged styles. This part of France is home to the most expensive and arguably one of the most complex rosés on the planet. The Pays d’Oc definitely has a rosé for every taste.
Interested in learning more? Whether beginner or expert, wine lovers can explore a huge number of wine regions, grape varieties and production methods through a WSET qualification. To find out more visit wsetglobal.com
Read more: Sumptuous spring cocktails to make at home
Read more: Burnt Basque cheesecake recipe
Keep up with the top stories from Reader's Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter