Bekaa Valley, Lebanon.


Bekaa Valley, Lebanon

Dating back 5,000 years, Lebanon is among the oldest sites of wine production in the world.  The Phoenicians along the coast were instrumental in spreading viticulture techniques throughout the Mediterranean, making and trading wines long before the Greeks and Romans.  The majority of the vines today are grown 1,200 meters above sea level in Baalbeck, the ancient Greek city in the Bekaa Valley.  French influence on the country is evident in today's varietals: Cinsaut, Carignan, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Mourvedre, Grenache, and Syrah.

Casablanca Valley, Chile

Walled in by the densely forested Andes and sprinkled with a Pacific sea breeze, the fertile valleys of Chile harbor an increasingly expansive wine industry.  When most of us think of the wines from Chile, we ruminate over the reds - Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Carmenere.  The cool Casablanca Valley between Santiago and Valparaiso is trying to change that.  This area is the Chilean home for white wine, with zesty Sauvignon Blanc and creamy Chardonnay.  Nonetheless, if you're a stickler for reds, Casablanca Valley's muscular Pinot Noirs are equally noteworthy.

Central Otago, New Zealand

Sure, everybody knows about Marlborough and the big guns Cloudy Bay and Kim Crawford.  But, New Zealand is bursting with overlapping wine regions, and the country has a lot more to offer than Sauvignon Blanc.  Nestled in the sharp valleys of the Southern Alps, Central Otago is one of the world's southernmost wine regions.  While the bottles from here may not be cheap, the Pinot Noirs are some of the finest in the world.

Virginia, USA

The 5th largest wine-producing state in the country, many Americans haven't even heard of Virginia wine.  But, they are missing out.  Virginians made some of the earliest wine in the Americas over four centuries ago.  Thomas Jefferson even cultivated European grapes at Monticello.  Yet, Virginia's first big success story came in 1873 when a native American grape, the Norton, was named best red wine of all nations at the Vienna World's Fair.  The past twenty years have seen a boom in production with Viognier, Cabernet Franc, and the native Norton leading the way.

Villany, Hungary

The tradition of great wine in Hungary dates back a thousand years.  It may come as a surprise to many of us, but they've known they had good wine all along.  In recent years, the Hungarian wine industry truly emerged from under the cloak of communism.  Villany, along the southern border with Croatia, is the most developed and highly regarded region in the country.  The warm, dry climate and volcanic soils make it an excellent host for Bordeaux varietals.