The world of wine at our fingertips today is staggeringly diverse, with more than 5,000 grape varieties grown for wine, and lively communities of vintners on each and every major continent. In addition to the staggering assortment of grapes we grow, the same grape can express itself in drastically unique ways based on climate, weather, soil, topography, how we tend the vineyards, and the winemaker’s choices in barrel and bottle. For these reasons, and others, we commonly find ripe strawberry fields on the nose of a California Pinot Noir, and earthy ‘sous bois’ (a French term for aromas of forest-floor and undergrowth) on the nose a Pinot Noir from Burgundy. Wildly different experiences with the very same berry.
What’s more, wines from far flung corners of the globe are now found in our local wine shops, and appreciation is growing for indigenous, often rare varieties and styles of production. Some of these wines are only recently rescued from obscurity, and all offered up as cultural ambassadors to the palates.
As if this array were not enough to keep us busy for a lifetime, the world of wine continues to grow and change. Established favorites may dominate our dinner tables, but new vineyards are planted each day, some in places where vitis vinifera (the species of vine cultivated for fine wine) has never previously ventured. New clones are born, now methods of crafting wine pioneered, and we have the distinct pleasure of being among the first generations to enjoy these wines.
In this column we will explore a grape, place or wine trend each month, ranging from the niche and new, such as sparkling wines from England, to the traditional and venerated. We will lend time to the rare, venture of the beaten trails, take in stories, and explore the lesser known world of wine.
It is often said that ‘what grows together, goes together’, and at the end of the day, wine is made to be enjoyed. So sit back, pick a glass of wine from the list that is a mystery to you, and join me as we take an explorer’s approach to the wide and delicious world of wine!
- À Votre Santé.
• Certified Sommelier (CS)