Region of the Year 2013

Sometimes wine requires a fresh approach


As I sit here trying to come to some conclusion it occurs to me that perhaps I am going about this all wrong. I amafter all a wine snob. Yes, it’s true, I am biased and I know it. I am first and foremost a red wine drinkerso when I think of the best regions my thoughts automatically run towards things like Nebbiolo and Piedmont, PinotNoir and Burgundy, Syrah and the Rhone. It is a stretch for me to think of great regions for white wine before these reds and that’s just wrong, don’t you think?

Even when we come to the new world we are faced with Malbec and Mendoza, Zinfandel and the Dry Creek Valley, Pinot Noir in the Russian River Valley, and of course Cabernet in Napa. Whither the whites? Sure there are some great regions for whites. Take last year’s 2012 Region of the Year; the Alto Adige. It’s a region packed with great wines, red and white, which is why I selected it, and in hindsight it seems as though the power of their whites weighed heavily in my decision making process. 
So this year once again I am faced with this task of selecting a region worthy of further indepth exploration in the coming year; based not on a single wine but multiple wines. Multiple wines that are world class at that. Think about that, a region that truly excels with multiple varieties. They’re rare to say the least. Rare because of climatic and geological conditions that create favorable conditions for specific varieties, the overlap between which can be limited.  And also rare because of the power in the marketplace of combinations such as Napa Valley Cabernet. Even if Napa where the greatest place on earth to plant all varieties there still would be a preponderance of Cabernet. Simply put, there’s money in them there words.
For a region to be able to succeed with multiple varieties there has to either have been a long standing tradition of this type of planting, or the region needs to have the freedom to be less well defined in the marketplace than say a Napa Valley, intricately entwined as it is with a single variety. Is there such a region? A region that is evolving, and already producing exceptional wines across a range of varieties. Is there a region that has quietly been producing a nation's best white wines, developing a market while nobody was looking. Well in fact we were looking, but par for the course, we were all paying attention to their red wine.

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  • Snooth User: DUDELEE
    541137 30

    Perhaps you should look at Ontario wines for 2014. Its pinots and chards have been compared favourably with those of Burgundy, and its rieslings and cabs have been very well regarded. I won't go into icewines...

    Nov 06, 2013 at 2:08 PM

  • Snooth User: Zuiko
    Hand of Snooth
    540750 839

    Oregon is a good choice. I also like Arroyo Grande in California, partly because of Alban but also because of Talley and a few others.

    Nov 06, 2013 at 6:33 PM

  • Snooth User: Worldnav
    885287 13

    How about a return visit to California's Sierra Nevada foothills? Nestled between some charming gold rush towns, the wineries of Amador, El Dorado and Placer counties host some pretty spectacular zins and barberas.

    Nov 07, 2013 at 12:50 PM

  • Snooth User: jamesy
    362251 12

    Having just returned from Trento and Bolzano, I can attest to the great value in some of the local wines from Alto-Adige. Luscious fruity juice with a lot of character and without the overwhelming alcohol content that has become so popular in Ca. wines lately. My eyes were opened to a wonderfully friendly style of wine BUT, must I import them myself?

    Nov 08, 2013 at 4:21 PM

  • Snooth User: emmagramma
    422865 27

    Those of us that live in and love this wonderful piece of heaven thank you.

    Nov 08, 2013 at 4:53 PM

  • Thank you, Snooth, for the recognition! Oregon's wine industry thrives thanks to talented vintners and growers and ideal geography. But it is also successful because of the state's unique farmland protections and curbs on sprawl. Without the state's land use program, many of its prime wine-producing areas would have been lost to development before they were even discovered.

    Nov 11, 2013 at 6:07 PM

  • as a long time (30 years) retailer and restaurateur based in the Pacific Northwest, we drink these wines on a daily basis and are in constant contact with wineries and growers. The comment of "2011 Arguably the greatest vintage in the Willamette Valley over the past two decades. Low yields and a long, dry growing season combined to produce rich, powerful and age worthy wines" has me baffled. One of the coldest and sunless growing seasons in memory with the only saving grace being a heat spike in fall do not make for a 'great vintage' in the eyes of any vintner I have met with, except those that make pink wine.

    Read more:

    Nov 12, 2013 at 1:01 PM

  • Snooth User: steve1818
    424585 1

    Thanks for putting a picture of DDO!

    Jan 05, 2014 at 9:35 AM

  • Europe would be proud of its little, distant relative. Additionally, great care is taken to to prepare varietals so well as to confuse experts as to their terroir--e.g., Malbec, Viognier, Tempranillo, as well as the Burgundian and Alsatian mainstays. Commitment to process and love for the land culminates with a wine that is both unique and worldly.

    Feb 09, 2014 at 3:59 AM

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