Two Wine Producing Countries Rapidly Growing in Stature - Part 1
Greece and South Africa
Greece and South Africa
Within the last few weeks, I've had the chance to taste a pretty broad sampling of high quality wines from two countries that have had--for different reasons--spotty histories within the modern global wine trade. Wines from Greece fall into various levels of quality and usually sport the names of unfamiliar grapes on the label. Be aware that some of these grapes are in fact ancestors or precursors to grapes we use today in very popular wines. Also, don't fall into the trap of thinking that Greek wines are sweet, funky, or resin flavored. Sure a few are, but there are many tasty and interesting dry wines being produced in Greece today. Certain producers put a great deal of effort into creating world class wines that many wine lovers would appreciate if given the chance.
|Greece Has a Number of Varied and Unique Wine Producing Regions|
Greece of course was producing wine long before today's more famous wine producing countries, having inspired and instructed the southern Italians, Sicilians, the Gauls, and areas of the Iberian peninsula during their Mediterranean colonial endeavors. As such, the Greeks can be credited with spreading winemaking throughout western Europe, and therefore ultimately, the new world as well.
I think it's safe to say that South Africa brings a certain set of mixed emotions to American consumers. Some of it is based on lack of familiarity, some on skepticism, and some on politics from the past. The Republic of South Africa went through a very dark period called apartheid, and simultaneously operated its wine industry as a virtual monopoly for some time. Even though South African wine had been produced for a very long time, most of the world never saw any, and the trade embargoes that resulted as protest against the apartheid regime extended this condition for a while longer.
|South Africa's Dominant Wine Producing Area, the Western Cape|
Grapes that are quite familiar to American and other New World consumers are widely grown in South Africa, like Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah (Shiraz), Sauvignon Blanc, and Chenin Blanc. There is also a uniquely South African cross called Pinotage. These wines have character and generally speaking, boldness in style. Many Americans would probably appreciate some of these wines easily, again if given the chance. I especially enjoy some of the red blends often combining Cabernet Sauvignon with Shiraz, as well as many of their celebrated white wines.
I'll write more about these two countries in upcoming posts. I hope you'll give both these countries a closer examination. They both really deserve it. And don't be afraid to ask your trusted wine consultant to recommend the best quality examples.
'Till Next Time
-- Marc Soucy, FWS CSWMarc Wine Blog