In the world of wine, both seasoned experts and beginning enthusiasts are always looking to try something new. Whether you are a sauvignon blanc fan looking to branch out to red wine or a merlot connoisseur wanting to try a merlot from a completely different part of the world, our Wine Atlas: Around the World in 18 Bottles is your perfect resource! In this article, we have pinpointed 18 specific bottles of wine from 18 specific regions that are sure to please the palate and expand your vino horizons. We begin in Europe and move through Israel, South Africa, New Zealand, and Argentina (to name a few!), concluding our journey on the West Coast of the United States. We have consulted many of the leading authorities in the wine world for suggestions on regions, vineyards, and specific bottles of wine, and our list is sure to have something for everyone. Let the tour begin!
Our first stop on the Around the World in 18 Bottles tour is the famous and historic region of Burgundy, France. Burgundy has long been one of France’s most prominent wine-producing areas, and provides wine lovers with some of the most exclusive vintages in the world. Burgundy is located in eastern France and has been producing wine since the fourteenth century. The most famous product of Burgundy is burgundy wine, which is essentially another name for pinot noir. When drinking a burgundy, you should expect a soft and refined wine that is full of mineral, cherry, and smoke flavors. Burgundys pair well with lamb, duck, turkey, salmon, and beef.
According to chef and sommelier Pamela Heiligenthal (@enobytes / enobytes.com), wine lovers should be sure to try Maison Bertrand’s 2010 Ambroise Bourgogne Rouge ($22). You can learn more about this vineyard by going to www.ambroise.com or www.facebook.com/maison.ambroise.
Pamela Heiligenthal is a respected chef and sommelier who chronicles food and wine adventurers around the globe and seeks to bridge the gap between consumers and professionals. Learn more by visiting www.enobytes.com or @enobytes on Twitter.
Another essential location that any wine lover should be sure to experience is Alsace, France. This region is located in the northeast corner of France, and is one of the driest areas in the country. This makes it perfect for the cultivation of pinot gris (known as pinot grigio in Italy), a delicious and versatile white wine. Pinot gris is a medium to full bodied wine that imparts flavors of green apples, blossoms, and lemon. It is low in acidity, and its rich, floral bouquet pairs well with fish, chicken, pastas with creamy sauces, and soft, mild cheeses.
Tom Stevenon (@mrtomfizz), an authority on wine and the author of Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia, recommends Koehly Alsace Grand Cru Gloeckelberg’s 2012 Pinot Gris ($11). To learn more about this vineyard, visit www.vins-koehly.com/en/vineyard.html.
Tom Stevenson is the world’s foremost authority on champagne and has written 23 books that have been translated into 25 languages. To learn more, visit @mrtomfizz on Twitter.
Our trek through France continues into the Champagne region, which specializes in (surprisingly enough), champagne! Champagne is enjoyed around the world, and is often consumed when celebrating special occasions or milestones. When drinking champagne, you can expect to taste hints of pear, citrus, apple, cream, and vanilla. Champagne pairs well with oysters, foie gras, caviar, and smoked salmon.
Champagne expert and British ex-patriate Stephen Cronk (@Stephen_Cronk) recommends two different champagnes from Laurent-Perrier. If you are looking for an inexpensive option, try Laurent-Perrier’s Brut Champagne ($39.99). However, if you would like to try something a bit more refined, look for Laurent-Perrier’s Cuvée Rosé Brut Rosé ($99.99). You can learn more about Laurent-Perrier by visiting www.laurent-perrier.com or @ChampagneLPUSA on Twitter.
Stephen Cronk is a British expatriate who moved to Provence to found Mirabeau Wine (@mirabeauwine). He is also an expert on wine and cheese pairings. Learn more by visiting @Stephen_Cronk or www.mirabeauwine.com.
We will now move south from France into the storied Piedmont region of Italy. Piedmont borders France and Switzerland, and it is often referred to as the Burgundy of Italy. It boasts a mild Mediterranean climate, which makes it a perfect location for growing white grapes such as moscato (also known as muscat). Moscato is popular with both beginning and seasoned enthusiasts, which is largely due to its spritzy, bubbly character. When enjoying moscato, you will taste fruity flavors like orange, peach, and green grapes. This wine pairs well with desserts, charcuterie boards, antipasto, and almost any kind of cheese.
When choosing the perfect moscato, Ms. Heiligenthal recommends La Spinetta Vigneto Biancospino’s 2007 Moscato d’Asti ($17). You can learn more about this vineyard by visiting www.facebook.com/LaSpinetta.Italy or @LaSpinettaItaly on Twitter.
The fifth stop on our Around the World in 18 Bottles tour is Douro, Portugal, the home of port wine. Production of port began during the seventeenth century, and it has steadily grown in popularity ever since. Port is a fortified wine that is typically sweet, and is often served as a dessert wine. When sampling port, drinkers will taste flavors of raspberry, blackberry, caramel, cinnamon, and chocolate. Port pairs well with nuts, blue cheese, dried figs and apricots, and chocolate.
Ms. Heiligenthal’s favorite port is Ramos Pintos’s 20 Year Tawny Do Bom Retiro Port ($70). She says, “[This port is] a perfect blend of savory, nutty, and a touch of sweetness that carries orange peel, hazelnut, and fresh scraped vanilla bean essence; this port delivers an experience that tantalizes the senses in every way possible.” You can learn more about this vineyard by visiting www.ramospinto.pt or www.facebook.com/Ramos.Pinto.Port.Duoro.Wine.
We will now head northeast into western Germany to visit the bountiful growing region of Pfalz. With almost 60,000 acres under cultivation, Pfalz is the second-largest wine producing region in Germany after Rheinhessen. Pfalz is one of the sunniest, warmest, and driest areas of Germany, which make it perfect for the cultivation of riesling grapes. When enjoying this wine, you should expect a rich and complex wine with nutty, honeyed qualities and notes of citrus, peach, and apricot flavors. Rieslings pair well with chicken, pork, duck, turkey, crab, and cheese, but are also very enjoyable when drank on their own.
We spoke with Tatiana Livessey of @TheWinerist, and she recommended Weingut Emil Bauer & Söhne’s 2014 “Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll” Riesling ($23). You can learn more about this vineyard by visiting www.bauerwein.de or searching for “Weingut Emil Bauer & Söhne” on Facebook.
Tatiana Livessey is a London-based expert on wine, travel, and food who co-founded The Winerist, an award-winning wine and travel website. Learn more by visiting www.winerist.com or @TheWinerist on Twitter.
Our next stop on our worldwide wine tour is Jerusalem, Israel, which is well-known for its cultivation of port wine grapes. Israeli wines have won numerous awards from Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast, and kosher wines continue to have a growing impact on the wine world. When drinking an Israeli port, you should expect a full bodied wine that imparts flavors of cherry, almond, and black pepper.
Another world-famous region that is essential to any wine tasting tour is the Stellenbosch region of South Africa. Stellenbosch is South Africa’s second-oldest settlement after Cape Town, and is famous for its production of delicious, full bodied cabernet sauvignon. One of the most popular and well-known red varieties, cabernet sauvignon is a dry wine that is high in alcohol and bursting with flavors like vanilla, coffee, toffee, and chocolate. Cabernet pairs well with steak, beef stroganoff, short ribs, and roasted potatoes.
Luxury travel and wine expert Renee Blodgett (@WeBlogtheWorld) highly recommends the Stellenbosch region of South Africa, mentioning that “you can get quality [wine] for a reasonable price.”
Renee Blodgett is the founder and editor of We Blog the World, an online luxury travel and adventure travel magazine covering unique experiences in travel, culture, adventure, arts, food, and wine. Learn more at @WeBlogtheWorld or www.weblogtheworld.com.
When sampling a cabernet from Stellenbosch, Mail & Guardian (@mailandguardian) recommends Waterford Estate’s 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon ($23). To learn more about this vineyard, you can visit www.waterfordestate.co.za or @waterfordestate on Twitter.
Western Cape, South Africa
Our second South African stop on the Around the World in 18 Bottles tour is the Western Cape, which is home to the vast majority of the country’s wine industry. The Western Cape has been producing wine since the seventeenth century, and it best known for its refined and sophisticated shiraz. Known as syrah/sirah when produced in France, shiraz is a medium to full bodied red wine with a smooth mouth-feel that delivers flavors of blackberry, black cherry, licorice, and dark chocolate. Shiraz pairs well with grilled vegetables, wild game, beef stew, lamb, and sausage.
We will now move eastward to New South Wales, Australia, another of the world’s most famous wine producing regions. Home of James Busby, the father of winemaking in Australia and New Zealand, New South Wales accounts for over one-third of the country’s total wine output. One of the best wines to come out of New South Wales is viognier, which is sure to please any wine enthusiast. Viognier is a sophisticated white grape that produces wines with aromas of peaches, apricots, and violets, and tastes of stone fruit and honey. Viognier pairs well with chicken, seafood, turkey, and shellfish.
Australian wine seller and connoisseur Mark Lightfoot (@MarkLightfoot4U / www.screwtopimports.com) recommends Clonakilla’s 2013 Canberra District Viognier ($50). You can learn more about this vineyard by visiting www.clonakilla.com.au or @Clonakilla on Twitter.
Marlborough (New Zealand)
One of the premier wine growing regions in the world is Marlborough, New Zealand, which is the next location we will visit as we travel around the world in 18 bottles. Located at the northeastern tip of New Zealand’s South Island, this region produces around three-quarters of all New Zealand wines. Marlborough is most famous for its pungent and zesty sauvignon blanc, and few regions are as associated with a single grape variety as Marlborough is with sauvignon blanc. When enjoying a Marlborough sauvignon blanc, you can expect an assertive and straightforward white wine that imparts flavors of grass, nettles, asparagus, gooseberries, and green apple. Sauvignon blanc pairs well with fish, shellfish, chicken, pork, salads, and creamy pasta dishes.
Wine Enthusiast’s Joe Czerwinski (@JoeCz) reviews wines from Australia and New Zealand and recommends Saint Clair’s 2013 Wairau Reserve Sauvignon Blanc ($29) For more information on this vineyard, visit www.saintclair.co.nz or @saintclairwine on Twitter.
Martinborough, New Zealand
Our second New Zealand stop on our wine tour is the region of Martinborough, which is known for its complex and well-rounded pinot noir. Martinborough’s cool climate and excellent soil make it perfect for growing pinot noir grapes, and it has been a prime site for viticulture since the 1970s. When enjoying a pinot noir, enthusiasts will taste strong, okay overtones accompanied by flavors of vanilla and rose. Pinot noir is considered a light to medium bodied wine, and experts often describe it as a moderately dry wine. Pinot noir pairs well with duck, salmon, mushrooms, and pork.
Maipo Valley, Chile
Our Around the World in 18 Bottles tour will now head across the globe to taste a merlot from the Maipo Valley of Chile. Located in northern Chile, Maipo Valley is one of the country’s oldest and most popular regions of wine. The area is warm and dry, and the production of wine in this region can be traced back to the sixteenth century. Merlot is the second most popular variety of red wine behind cabernet sauvignon, and is produced on a global scale. When sampling merlot, consumers will enjoy a fresh and fruity start that finishes with soft notes of vanilla, mocha, and cloves. Merlot is a dry, full bodied wine that pairs well with chicken, fish, and lightly-seasoned red meats.
Snooth.com is the world’s largest wine website, and provides enthusiasts with the opportunity to discover, explore, buy, and enjoy the world’s best wines. Learn more by visiting www.snooth.com or @Snooth.
Our second stop in South America is Mendoza, Argentina, an area famous for their delicious and flavorful malbecs. Mendoza is the largest grape-producing region in Argentina, and wines have been grown here since the arrival of Catholic missionaries in the fifteenth century. Warm, dry days followed by cool ocean breezes at night allow for a longer ripening period and deliver great concentrations of taste without an excess of acidity. Malbec is a dry, rich, full bodied red wine that imparts dark, berry-like fruit flavors and pairs well with beef, pizza, and tomato sauce-based pastas. When the time comes to try the perfect Argentinian malbec, Ms. Heiligenthal recommends Clos de los Siete Mendoza’s Argentina Malbec ($20). To learn more about this vineyard, visit www.closdelossiete.com.
North Coast, California
The most prominent and distinguished wine producing region in California is the North Coast, which covers more than three million acres and contains the famous Napa and Sonoma valleys. Wines from this region are mass-produced blends made from grapes harvested in several sub-regions, and the most famous product from this area is the perennially popular chardonnay. The world’s most famous white wine grape, chardonnay is casked in oak bottles and is a delightfully complex, dry wine with a light to medium body. Chardonnays produced in cooler climates feature buttery aromas and impart flavors of vanilla, cinnamon, and clove; those from warmer climates are distinguished by their tropical notes and hints of stone fruits such as peaches and apricots. Chardonnays pair well with seafood, chicken, pork, mild cheeses, and fruity desserts.
Ms. Blodgett praised the North Coast, and mentions that she “absolutely love[s] oak-barreled chardonnays” from this region.
When sampling chardonnays from the North Coast, Wine Spectator (@WineSpectator) recommends Epilogue’s 2010 North Coast Chardonnay ($14). For more information on this winery, visit www.evolvewinery.com or @Epiloguewines on Twitter.
South Coast, California
Our second California stop on Around the World in 18 Bottles is the well-known and well-respected South Coast. This region extends from Ventura to the border of Mexico and provides a hot, dry environment for viticulture. Zinfandel grapes thrive here, and vineyards in the area date back to the eighteenth century. When sampling zinfandel, enthusiasts will enjoy a bold red wine with moderate tannin and high acidity. Zinfandel imparts flavors of raspberries, pepper, bay leaves, sweet thyme, and basil, and pairs well with pork, lamb, and poultry.
Yakima Valley, Washington
We will now move north to the Yakima Valley of Washington, which is located within the Columbia Valley and is home to more than one-third of the state’s grape vines. The Yakima Valley is best known for its sophisticated chardonnays, and the area has been producing wine since the second half of the nineteenth century. Chardonnays produced in Washington are barrel fermented and exceptional in their balance and length; enthusiasts will also enjoy tastes of apple pie, pear, baking spice, butter, and caramel.
Wine Enthusiast contributor Paul Gregutt (@paulgwine) suggests Kevin White’s 2011 La Fraternité Chardonnay ($20). For more information on this vineyard, visit www.kevinwhitewinery.com or @kevinwhitewine on Twitter.
Paul Gregutt is a wine expert who blogs on wine politics, reviews, arguments, and opinions. He is the Northwest Editor for Wine Enthusiast and has been a wine columnist for The Seattle Times for 13 years. Learn more at www.paulgregutt.com and @paulgwine.
Willamette Valley, Oregon
Our final stop on our trip around the world in 18 bottles is Willamette Valley, Oregon. Long regarded as one of the world’s premier producers of pinot noir, the Willamette Valley region covers over three million acres of land stretching from Portland south to its eponymous river valley. Oregon pinot noirs are as well-respected as their more expensive Burgundian counterparts, and are considered light to medium bodied, moderately dry red wines.
When enjoying a Willamette Valley pinot noir, @WineFolly explains that enthusiasts will enjoy a subtle, high acidity wine with notes of cranberries and earth.
Dave at www.oregonpinotnoirwine.com recommends Beaux Fréres 2013 The Upper Terrace Pinot Noir ($100). You can learn more about this vineyard by visiting www.beauxfreres.com or @beauxfreres on Twitter.
Dave from www.oregonpinotnoirwine.com provides Oregon pinot noir fans with an extensive database of Oregon’s wineries, vineyards, top-rated wines, and industry notes. You can contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.