Focus on wine: The most exciting wine regions of 2013

Sommeliers tell us why Sicily, Australia and New York State are producing wines that are getting their taste buds excited

While including popular wines such as a Pinot Grigio from Italy or a Merlot from France on your wine list is a sensible idea, there are times when you might just want to head out of your viticultural comfort zone and add something a little different.

To get some inspiration, we asked a few of the UK's top sommeliers and those responsible for choosing wines to share with us the wine regions they currently find the most exciting. 


Clement Robert, head sommelier at Medlar, London

"Australia is coming back very strongly with its wines. The quality is the same, but now the wines are slightly fresher than previously. They used to produce heavy, jammy wines, but now producers are coming back with some thinner, lighter, more elegant styles of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Actually, the whole range is definitely better than in recent years and the quality high, which is why I am so excited about Australia's wines." 


Gabriel Gonzalez, managing director Lima, London

"The whole world has had a massive leap in terms of quality in the last 40 years, highlighting wine regions and countries on the map, whose wines were previously considered nothing more than novelties to keep on a shelf. South America has been certainly a protagonist in such growth, playing a leading role in the modern wine business, suitable for any palates or pockets. Argentina, with their relatively masculine, well structured and more Old World-style wines, have captivated everyone’s palate with their bold expressions of Malbec, Cabernets and Chardonnays. On the other hand Chile keeps surprising us with its marvelously subtle and gentle, yet top quality wines spanning from medium to full bodied wines to surprisingly subtle and feminine ones"


Gal Zohar, sommelier at Ottolenghi and Nopi 

"What is really exciting is that there is a new wave of winemakers who have travelled the world and are now back in Israel bringing Old World wine-making techniques to the process. Israel is a warm country so wines will always be fuller, riper and have more concentration of fruit, so winemakers are trying to work with the climate to their benefit. The pick the grapes earlier and age them in oak which is something they didn't do before. The results are really surprising and the wines are really enjoyable to drink with lots of new oak and lots of fruit - the acidity level is high and the alcohol level is low which makes for some really interesting wines."


Mark Perlaki, chef sommelier, Hotel du Vin Harrogate

"To name one region that is truly exciting my palate, I'd have to say the Languedoc-Roussillon for their dry whites. This is a region that's totally upping its game. The quality of the reds is assured, so too in the quality to price ratio, while their whites I'm finding absolutely phenomenal. Using a broad array of grapes - the Rhône varieties, as well as Grenache Gris, Carignan Blanc, Macabeo and Petit Arvine - these are whites with tremendous breadth of fruit, herbs, texture and nuance, often with underlying earthy mineral tones. Listings and producers to look out for include the likes of Clos du Gravillas, Domaine Gayda, Le Conte de Floris, Jean-Philippe Padie, and Domaine Lafage."


Kathrine Larsen, head sommelier at Zuma, London

"For me, the Finger Lakes region in New York State is definitely the hottest. A combination of a fresh wine making approach to European classics and the expressive terroir of the region give the finger lakes a unique edge compared to other regions in the United States. The north east of the United States was the traditional home of American grape growing centuries ago with famous rootstocks for vines coming from the region. The re-utilisation of these vines and growing areas has become an exciting viticultural prospect for producers in the area and wines young, fresh, expressive wines have followed.  Specifically, the production of Cabernet Franc in this region pays homage to its Loire roots by showing fresh, fruit driven herbaceous fruits whilst displaying the minerality of the soils of the northern part of New York State. La Moreau stands out as an impressive producer with their cabernet Franc making a large impression on the international market for its rejuvenating take on a commonly overlooked grape variety in the European market."


Jan Konetzki, head sommelier at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, London

"Sicily is producing some amazing wines, on that little dot there is a lot happening. They are wines on the edge of classic wine-making and slightly more funkier, maybe esoteric wines with great distinction. They are a combination of character and vibrancy and they are things that attract me. I like wines that have a pronunciation, wines that say 'this is me' and shout something and that's why if you look at the part of the wine list that is growing at the restaurant at the moment, it's Sicily, that and whites from Portugal." 

Tomorrow, find out what these sommeliers consider to be the perfect wine and food pairing. 

Find all our Focus on Wine articles here. 

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Comments (1)

Rochelle Bushell - 10 Jun 2013 | 11:12

Surely this is not all

I'm very surprised South Africa has not been mentioned in this article. There is a wine-making talent that simply cannot be ignored on an international scale, with some incredibly exciting wines - seductively sexy Syrah’s to chivalrous old vine Chenin’s. Really think the author needs to broaden her horizons.

10-Jun-2013 at 23:12 GMT

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