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Wines where You least expect them

Wine has become such a popular beverage that it seems to be cropping up everywhere. First it was America producing not only a lot of wine, but eventually some of the best wines in the world. The world of wine was stretching far beyond France, Italy, Spain, Germany, and Austria and was expanding across the globe to Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, and South Africa. Today we find wines being produced in the most unlikely of places in every corner of the globe.

One of the biggest stories in modern wine is the growth of the Chinese wine industry. And why not? China has as much, if not more, varied terroir than any other country in the world. The Chinese wine history dates back as far as 128 BC when General Chang began to plant European vines at the Imperial Palace of Chang An. Granted, a real industry didn’t develop from it right away, but its roots certainly date back. Today, China is the seventh largest producer of wine in the world, which tops Portugal, Chile, and Germany. Franco-Chinese co-ops are all the rage these days, producing not only mass quantities of wine, but high-quality wine that carry potential and exciting prospect for great wines in the future. Syrah seems to be a favorite grape thus far.

Mexico has even jumped on the bandwagon, growing European vines since 1521 when Spanish conquistadors began planting vineyards and making wine. Mexico certainly has the microclimates and soil compositions to make great wine, but it seems that the popularity of beer and tequila might hold their footing in terms of local consumption. Mexico does, however, boast the second oldest winery in North America. Casa Madero is known for its weighty Cab.

Canada has also made its mark on the face of wine with its world-famous Icewine. This is a process where grapes are left on the vine late into the season. They are left late enough that the grapes freeze. They are then pressed, while still frozen, producing one of the world’s finest sweet wines. Inniskillin is the most famous wine produced in this method, but good luck, it is kind of spendy. I have heard rumors of Canadian Pinot Noir coming to center stage in the Canadian wine industry, but as I have not yet tasted any I have no comment on this topic.

And maybe the least likely place of all to find wine, Utah now boasts eight wineries, each more 20 acres under vine. Our fair state produces wines from Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, and Chenin Blanc. Believe it or not, Utah has been making wine a lot longer than you think. In the 1850s, Brigham Young commissioned the first vineyards and winery in Utah, requesting that one of his German followers start making wine as wine was still allowed during the sacrament at that time. It was, however, recommended that the majority of it be sold to those passing through ontheir way to the West Coast.

Zev Rovine is the sommelier and resident cheese monger at the Spotted Frog Bookstore Cafe and Wine Bar where he teaches weekly wine classes. His wine education comes from the American Sommelier Association in N.Y.C. and he tries his very best not to spill the Pinot on the bestseller section. If you have any wine queries or comments he is easily contacted via e-mail at zev@spottedfrogbooks.com .


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