By Jay Buchsbaum
The year 5775 is almost here. And so is a bevy of new wines from wineries in Israel. New wines from Italy, France, New Zealand, and California have arrived as well.
As people’s tastes in wine vary, so have the new arrivals. This new year brings a new array of wines, giving the wine lover an opportunity to taste heretofore undiscovered greats and the latest version of their favorites. But the new wines are among the most exciting for any wine lover.
First, a little about each region offering new wines for the New Year.
California wines have always been known for their fruit-forward, big, rich flavors. California gets this reputation because of its unique terroir. Terroir means all the aspects that go into how the grape comes out, including soil, sunshine, humidity, etc. California terroir lends itself to grapes at harvest that are generally higher in sugar and richer in flavor. Perhaps it’s not as complex and layered as other wine-growing regions, but the full, rich fruit comes through in the final wine.
France is the oldest growing region for fine table wines for nearly five plus centuries. It’s said that Rashi grew grapes in Bordeaux for wine. And vineyards that existed even 500 years ago are still producing wines today. This allowed France, over the years, to discover the best places to grow the best grapes. Today, Cabernet Merlot and Cab Franc (amongst others) are grown in and around the Bordeaux area. Burgundy and Southern France grow primarily Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and the Rhone Valley grows varieties such as Mouvedre, Grenache, and other grapes appropriate to its region.
Did you know that the Middle East, especially Israel, is where grape-growing for wine originated? Israel, because of its generally warmer climate, produces grapes that are riper at harvest. But with its varied terroir—cooler weather and volcanic soil in the north and generally warmer weather and terra rosa, clay and loam soil, in the central and south part of the country—Israel can and does make a wide variety of flavors and tastes in wine. Couple this varied Israeli terroir with the most up-to-date winemaking techniques in the world, and you have some of the finest wine coming from Israel.
Italy’s tradition of winemaking dates back centuries as well, and the influence of bicoastal bodies of water to its east and west allows for the grapes harvested in Italy to produce some of the most delicious wines. The primary grape is Sangiovese in red and, today, Moscato and Pinot Grigio in white. When done right (see sidebar) these can produce wines with class distinction as well as lively and memorable flavors.
New Zealand is in the Southern Hemisphere. When we have winter, they have summer. While most of the world harvests in late summer and fall, they harvest in fall and winter when they experience their summer. This leads the grapes to produce flavors and resulting wines that are at once lively and crisp but filled with flavor and aroma.
Jay Buchsbaum is VP and the director of wine education for Royal Wine. He has traveled the world drinking in wine knowledge and the wines themselves and has lectured on wine from Congress to the heart of China. You can contact Jay at email@example.com.