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.
Alsace is home to some of the highest-quality appellations not just in France, but in the entire world of fine wine. The three main categories of Alsace wine appellations—Alsace AOC, Alsace Grand Cru AOCs, and Crémant d’Alsace AOC—each have notable characteristics that wine enthusiasts love. This guide will take you through each of these categories in detail and single out the characteristics that make these wines so special.
When the Vinfolio team visited Pomerol during en primeur week this past spring, we stopped at Château Lafleur to taste some of their incredible wines. During our tasting of the 2018 vintage, we had an enlightening discussion with a representative from the estate about what makes Pomerol special. Here, terroir is king. Château Lafleur and other Pomerol wine producers know just how unique the soil and climate are in this region, so they take a hands-off approach. The quality of the area’s terroir and the grapes it produces really do speak for themselves and this is a large part of what makes Pomerol so distinctive. In most other regions of Bordeaux, the winemaker’s signature style is very apparent in the wine; in Pomerol, most producers prefer not to interfere with the terroir’s natural characteristics at all.
While it’s still too early to judge the 2018 Burgundy vintage with any certainty, winemakers across the region are thrilled with how these wines developing so far. Louis Fabrice Latour, president of Maison Louis Latour, told The Drinks Business, “We are very pleased to have two big crops in a row of very good quality.” Some Burgundians, like négociant Philippe Pacalet, have even compared the 2018 vintage to 1947–one of the top Burgundy vintages in history.