NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Everyone likes a nice glass of wine, but where does one go for the full oenophile experience? Men’s website AskMen.com (www.askmen.com) offers its top 10 list of wine destinations for those keen to travel for the grape. Reuters has not endorsed this list:
1. Burgundy, France
The ancient ocean beds that have receded to give life and fertile soil to the Beaune give Burgundy its depth and complexity. Like an ever-evolving maze, each sip of luscious Pinot Noir or clean, crisp Chardonnay lends itself to a bevy of adjectives and thoughts. The gem among the subclassifications of Burgundy is the Côte d’Or, or the “Golden Slope.” The hillsides in Burgundy gather up the sun’s rays, and paired with the nutrient-rich dried seafloor, give character to famous vineyards like Domaine Romanée-Conti, Vosne-Romanée and Chassagne-Montrachet.
2. Champagne, France
This is a region known not only for its quality but also its consistency. Big-name producers make both consistent house styles as well as single vintage products, and the quality is unrivaled. With a combination of steady prices and a surge of smaller producers who are meticulous about their quality — like Pierre Gimonnet et Fils — the region offers new products as the big names of Perrier Jouët, Dom Perignon and Moet & Chandon continue to provide classic styles that define elegance, sophistication and celebration.
3. Tuscany, Italy
The home of some of the most recognizable and consistent wines in the world, Tuscany produces such wines as Chianti Classico, Brunello, Carmignano, and the red blends known as Super Tuscans. (Due to the government regulation on the blending of wines, Super Tuscans do not have to adhere to a formula.) Tuscany embodies hard work, dedication and passion. The terroir and texture imbue Tuscan wines with a richness that stands out.
4. Bordeaux, France
No one region has had as much influence over the past century as Bordeaux. Creating everything from a wine culture to mythical vintages that garner more attention than some celebrities, these wines have set standards and tasting profiles worldwide. The two rivers that separate Bordeaux into “left bank” and “right bank” are the Garonne and the Dordogne. Merlot is the granddaddy here and lends its texture to historic wines like Pétrus and Château Ausone. Due to over production, many of the Châteaus are failing to make the same landmark wines they were able to in the early 2000s
5. Mosel, Germany
Two rivers, the Saar and Ruwer, cut through the dramatic German landscape and converge into the Mosel River, creating a gorgeous backdrop for some of the most complex wines in the world. The steep south-facing slopes gather as much sun as possible as the delicate Riesling grapes gain a deep minerality from the rich slate soils. Riesling, the soft wine grape, is king here. Before Bordeaux took the world by storm, it was the Rieslings produced here that basked in the world’s attention
6. Napa Valley, California
The first of the wine regions in the United States to garner international praise and attention, Napa, California, is home to some of the world’s greatest wineries. With a tradition that spans from early settlers to finding a “legal” way around prohibition, the American “cowboy” mentality comes through in the determination to make a world-class wine when they were told they never would. The outstanding Mediterranean microclimate and a mixture of decomposed oceanic fossils and lava ash give the rich grapes of Robert Mondavi, Chateau Montelena and Harlan Estate their bold and elegant flavors.
7. Piedmont, Italy
Wine in Piedmont is as much a part of life as breathing. The leading grape here is Nebbiolo, which produces the superb Barolo and Barbaresco wines. To complement the depth of the Nebbiolo wines, sweeter wines Moscato d’Asti and Asti Spumante are made from Moscato Bianco. The mineral-rich wines from Azienda Cerreto feature the citrus and pear flavors of the Arneis grape.
8. Ribera del Duero, Spain
Sitting on the northern plateaux of Spain along the Duero River, the rocky terrain of Ribera del Duero is home to the vines that give birth to the most expensive wine in the world, Vega Sicilia. The Tempranillo grape and the ability to grow world-class Cabernet Sauvignon give this region the leg up on its Rioja brother.
9. Barossa Valley, Australia
Wines from Australia continue to push the envelope in terms of the amount of flavor you can pack into a bottle. An anonymous Australian winemaker once said, “We make wines that punch you in the face and then kick your teeth down the road.” Even though they’re jam-packed with intense fruitiness, the wines are well balanced. For wine drinkers who are looking for a fruit-forward wine that cuts through a meaty steak or a rosemary lamb roast, try a Grenache or a Shiraz.
10. California’s Central Coast and the South of France.
Dubbed by aficionados as “the next frontier,” California’s Central Coast is filled with bar-setting vineyards like Longoria, Foxen and Sanford. Heavy producers of fresh, strawberry-scented Pinot Noirs and clean, woody Chardonnays abound, and producers often experiment with biodynamic farming.
The South of France sets the tone for most of the “green” farming in wine. Coupled with huge flavors and floral bouquets, these wines span palate ranges and have set the groundwork for a new breed of wine making. Regions like Côtes du Rhône and Gigondas produce some of the most complex and dynamic wines in the world. The Châteauneuf-du-Pape style of red-blended wines inspired some of California’s Central Coast’s best Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre wines.
Editing by Steve Addison