Sonoma Valley in California has earned a stellar reputation for producing some of the most fascinating wines in the New World. An incredible array of wines is made here, from refined and elegant Pinot Noir that dances delicately on the palate to robust and hedonistic Zinfandel that’s full of unctuous fruit flavors. What makes this region so diverse? More than a dozen microclimates and terroirs are packed into this small county. There are 18 Sonoma wine appellations (called American Viticultural Areas, or AVAs for short), each producing different styles of wine. No two appellations are exactly alike.
Spain is home to many passionate producers that pride themselves on crafting opulent styles of wine with impressive aging potential. From the concentrated and oaked wines of Rioja to the aromatic and polished wines of Ribera del Duero, Spain has so much to offer. Vinfolio’s resident Master of Wine Adam Lapierre says that more collectors should get excited about Spanish wines, as many wines from this country are growing more valuable and delicious every year.
Now that producers in Burgundy have brought in the last of their 2019 crop, spirits are high across the region. Extremely warm weather and uneven flowering early in the season reduced yields, but the quality of the surviving fruit is exceptional. Early reports show that the grapes are deeply concentrated and intense this year—a quality that could signify great aging potential and value in the future. In this 2019 Burgundy vintage report, we highlight the wines we believe will have the greatest complexity and value this year so that you can make the most informed decisions about how to invest when the vintage is released.
If you were to rank the best American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) in the United States, the Russian River Valley wine region would be near the top of the list. This California AVA located in Sonoma is tremendously well-respected among wine experts, who consider it one of the greatest regions in the world for growing complex Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Many of the wines made here are acidic, elegant, and multilayered. These are luscious wines that every collector should experience at least once in a lifetime.
When many people think of Chianti, they picture a squat wine bottle encased in a rustic straw covering and served alongside a heaping plate of Tuscan antipasto. This is, after all, a bright, acidic wine that has been shared at Tuscan dinner tables for centuries. It’s one of the few wines in the world that enhances almost any dish you pair with it.
Pinot Noir is a wine chameleon—it evolves in response to its surroundings, taking on an entirely new personality in every terroir. This light-bodied red wine variety is extremely sensitive to even the slightest changes in climate, which is why there’s such a notable difference between New-World Pinot Noir and Old-World Pinot Noir. While New-World Pinot Noir is often fruit-forward, heavily oaked, and extracted, Old-World Pinot Noir is generally more delicate, acidic, and earthy.
The Umbrian wine region of Italy may be small, but its wines pack a powerful punch. The best wines from Umbria are racy and vibrant and many have aging potential. This region is also incredibly diverse; while it’s known for citrusy, dry white wines, Umbria also produces many bold, tannic red varieties that are gaining in popularity among Italian wine collectors. This guide will explore what collectors need to know about this marvelous “green heart of Italy,” including the area’s best-known subregions, finest producers, and most collectible blends.
If you compare Pomerol vs. Saint-Émilion in a blind tasting, can you tell the difference? Even many well-educated Bordeaux connoisseurs can’t tell these wines apart. Because these appellations are neighbors located in the northwestern region of the Right Bank, their climates are very similar and both areas produce rich, complex Merlot-based blends with great aging potential.
In Langhe, wine is more than a beverage—it’s a way of life. Winemakers in this hilly area located in the Piedmont region of northern Italy have been cultivating grapes here for many centuries. The region even has a coveted spot on the UNESCO World Heritage list due to its long history of winemaking. The best Langhe wines (particularly Nebbiolo) are intense, tannic, and long-lived, full of heady perfume and bright acidity. Its rich history coupled with the incredibly high quality of the wines has made Langhe a top destination for wine-loving tourists and serious collectors.
Wine drinkers often get confused when they shop for Left Bank Bordeaux, especially if they don’t have a lot of experience reading wine labels from this region. Even some experienced wine enthusiasts aren’t sure exactly what differentiates Médoc vs. Haut-Médoc wines. Some bottles are labeled “Appellation Médoc Contrôlée” (AOC) or have the word “Médoc” in large letters. Other bottles are labeled just “Haut-Médoc.” This guide will help make sense of the incredible wines made in both the Médoc and the Haut-Médoc AOCs, providing all of the information you need to find the best bottles from each region.
Wines from Hermitage are some of the most delicious and rewarding to age. They can taste a little closed off in their youth, but over time they transform into deeply complex wines packed with peppery, smoky flavors. There is also a lot of flavor variety in wines from this region. For example, a wine enthusiast posting on the Wine Berserkers forum tried two bottles of Hermitage at dinner—a 2004 M. Chapoutier Ermitage Le Pavillon and a 2007 Paul Jaboulet Aîné Hermitage La Chapelle. The 2007 wine was flavorful and juicy, but still a little green–a common quality in relatively young Hermitage. The 2004 wine was more complex, aromatic, and much more mature tasting, despite being only a few years older. Although these two estates are located only about three miles apart, the two wines couldn’t have been more different. Terroir, age, and vintage strongly influence Hermitage wine characteristics.
Willamette Valley Pinot Noir has an excellent reputation among fine wine collectors. These wines are even compared to Burgundy’s in terms of their flavor profile. Master of Wine Jancis Robinson told the Los Angeles Times that producer Bergström makes some of her favorite Oregonian Pinot Noir in part because it reminds her of fine Burgundy. “I love Bergström’s wines because they are an exciting expression of what Oregon has to offer,” she says. “Josh Bergström trained in Burgundy, so they have a purity and a lack of palate-numbing sweetness too.” The best Willamette Valley Pinot Noir vintages achieve this purity and freshness when the weather conditions in the valley are just right. Too much or too little rain and sunshine can significantly reduce the quality of the vintage as a whole.