Wines by Country
France is generally considered to be the most important wine-producing country in the world. The main regions are Bordeaux and Burgundy.
The majority of wine from Bordeaux is red; in the UK, red Bordeaux is called 'Claret'.
The region is divided by the confluence of the Dordogne and Garonne rivers with the Gironde Estuary; there are two main areas - the Left Bank and the Right Bank. The wines are generally blended from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes.
- Iconic vintages: 1982, 1986 (Left Bank), 1990, 2000, and 2005.
- Iconic châteaux: Château Ausone, Château Cheval Blanc, Château Haut-Brion, Château Laﬁte Rothschild, Château Latour, Château Lynch Bages, Château Margaux, Château Mouton Rothschild, Le Pin, Pétrus.
Sauternes in southern Bordeaux produces some of the best dessert wine in the world. The area's mists and sunshine encourage the growth of botrytis cinerea, a mould that dehydrates and, in the process, sweetens the grapes.
Famous for red and white wines; the whites are seen by some by as the best in the world. The region's complex geography and geology, along with numerous producers and vineyards, mean that the wines vary in style. Principal grape varieties are Pinot Noir for red and Chardonnay for white.
- Iconic vintages: 1978, 1985, 1990, 1996, 1999, 2002, and 2005.
Tuscany yields some of the country's best wines - especially Chianti, mainly made from Sangiovese grapes. Vino Nobile de Montepulciano is an impressive red. Also look out for Barolo from the Piedmont region.
Rioja is a full-bodied, chunky red. Alternatively, look out for reds from Ribera del Duero, made from Tempranillo - the most prestigious estate in the area is Vega Sicilia. For either, the grandest tend to be the Reservas or Gran Reservas.
Californian viticulture is blessed with good geographical conditions and they produce huge quantities of wine. The key grapes are Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel and Chardonnay.
Home of commercial 'New World' wines, the key reds are Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz; the white, once again, is Chardonnay.
New Zealand's climate and geography provide perfect growing conditions and, as a result, the country produces some excellent wines. Its Sauvignon Blanc is considered to be amongst the ﬁnest white wines in the world; also look out for outstanding Pinot Noir.
Over half of the wine produced in South Africa is Chenin Blanc. The country also boasts its own speciality, Pinotage, a spicy red well worth trying.
When it comes to South America, many claim that red is the best way to go.
Chile: with a viticulturally perfect climate, Chile's wines are good quality and well priced. The key red grape is Cabernet Sauvignon.
Argentina: the home of excellent - and again, well priced - reds, look out for Argentinean Malbec.