The fine wines of the Americas are often overlooked as a result we are missing out, there are some great wines to seek out often at good prices.
North America is the world’s fourth largest wine producer. California accounts for nearly 90%. Much of what we see in the supermarkets is mid price, merely providing an alternative for a change!
The AVA (American Viticultural Area) classification specifies only the location. A minimum of 85% of the grapes must come from the AVA. It does not indicate quality or the grape type. To seek their finest wines, we need to see what the various experts are saying. Each year, The American Fine Wine Competition judges over 800 wines in various classes. In the 2018 contest, the following were Best of Class winners;
- Domaine Carneros, Sparkling. Champagne house Taittinger are part owners of this Californian producer
- Fox Run, White. This Riesling comes from New York state.
- Carol Shelton, Red. Based in California, Carol is a highly awarded US winemaker
As with their northern neighbours, much of what we see in the main supermarkets is at the lower price level. Argentina (6th) and Chile (7th) are the leading producers, both making more than Australia. Classing them as New World is something of a misnomer, winemaking dates back at least three hundred years in the region. Mendoza is the leading wine producing area.
Not surprisingly, there is a strong Spanish influence although French settlers were responsible for its most famous wine, Malbec. Improving quality and the exchange rate make their wines a good buy. Ironically, during the improvement period, many Malbec vines were replaced with commoner varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, now of course, Malbec gives differentiation in a crowded market. Most vineyards occupy the east facing slopes of the Andes mountains bordering Chile.
The Zuccardi family are one of the top quality producers, Zuccardi Aluvional Altamira, a fine Malbec is available in Waitrose.
Chile’s wine industry is thanks to immigrants settling from Spain and France consequently they brought expertise, planting on the western facing slopes of the Andes. The main growing areas are south of Santiago, the central capital of the country. Although more known for reds, they are also active with whites. Chile’s ideal vine growing climate has encouraged several european producers to the country.
Errazuriz Don Maximiano is a fine Cabernet Sauvignon based wine available from Waitrose.