Latest: Wine Regions to Watch in 2022

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Every January, and for over two decades now, I’ve put together a wine list, a top 10 list, which was simply a selection of wines that I had enjoyed the previous year. My favorite wines are those that convey a sense of belonging and passion; I think those elements are necessary to do a lot of things that are exceptional in this world, and that’s especially true for wine. That’s not to say large-scale wineries aren’t capable of this aesthetic as many are, and I applaud those who haven’t lost sight of what made them fall in love with the art of winemaking. winemaking in the first place (and for making wines that most people can afford).

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A few decades ago, I became a fan of Gourmet Magazine, one of two food and wine magazines owned by Condé Nast. Gourmet first appeared in 1941 and ran until they decided to shelve it in 2009, a decision apparently prompted by declining ad sales. Contributors included James Beard, David Foster Wallace, Ray Bradbury, Annie Proulx, and the list goes on. My inspiration to write about wine and wine regions was encouraged by a writer named Gerald Asher, a British expat who moved to California and wrote beautifully detailed stories about his travels to remote wine locations for Gourmet. . Its aim was to inspire readers to explore the wine route less traveled and challenge their palate, rather than subscribing to the magazine scores that had become the motivating factor in the expanding arena of wine drinking. wine. With that in mind, this column explores some of my favorite wine regions and, hopefully, inspires readers to travel those wine paths.

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The Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys: If you’re planning on visiting a vibrant young wine region brimming with potential and beauty, just get in your car and drive west for about seven hours. I think it’s safe to say that 2021 will go down as one of the toughest vintages on record for obvious reasons, but setbacks are now part of everyday life and wine regions are no exception. Despite recent challenges, this is a wine region on the move; factors such as quality, expertise and passion are all evident and only going up. If you’re looking for a wine country getaway, look no further than our backyard. Some recent favorites include wines from Meyer, Tantalus and Joy to name a few. Also, I just tasted a new syrah from The Wine Umbrella (you’ll have to travel to BC to get this one or check options online) which was very impressive.

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Portugal (the Douro Valley in particular): Portugal has always been a great source of value, but a new generation of young winemakers are pushing refinement and quality to new levels. Many old wines, especially the reds (which dominate in terms of production) could be described as rustic, and not always in a good way. The country is always known for its muscular reds, but in recent years they have shaken off some of their rough edges while keeping the value in check. If you decide to visit and drive through Lisbon be sure to explore this city, it just might be my favorite in Europe. Discover the wines of Reynolds, Anselmo Mendes (exceptional white wines), Quinta do Crasto, Quinta do Vale Meao Meandro and Carm.

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The Loire Valley, France: The Loire is best known for a pair of white grape varieties, Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc. The latter needs no introduction, but Chenin Blanc deserves far more attention than it gets on the world stage. This white grape is capable of delivering great potency and longevity (decades in some cases) but it can also be a refreshing and versatile food companion. The grape often exhibits a core of stone fruit, particularly apple, with a creamy texture, racy minerality and bright acidity. Late favorites include Huet, Arnaud Lambert, Champalou and Charles Joguet.

Germany: As much as I adore great Riesling – Germany’s claim to wine fame – the country has been making waves lately with Spätburgunder (aka Pinot Noir, the red grape of Burgundian legend), so much so that the variety is now ranked No. 3 in the world in terms of plantations. The notoriously temperamental red grape is clearly at home in many of the mineral soils and cool climates that define German viticulture. Global warming has played a role, raising average temperatures just enough to make it favorable for Pinot. Rheinhessen seems to be leading the charge, but there are now good examples in all major wine regions. Recent favorites include J.Neus, Meiser, Markus Molitor and August Kesseler. The German wine regions, especially the Rheinhessen and Moselle regions, are among the most beautiful wine regions on the planet.

Geoff Last is a longtime Calgary wine merchant, writer, instructor and broadcaster. He can be heard on CJSW’s Road Pops program on Fridays at 4 p.m. He received a fellowship at the Napa Valley Professional Wine Writers Symposium for articles in this column.

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