When it comes to the great wine-producing areas of the world, there are some regions that instantly come to mind; Bordeaux, Burgundy, Piedmont… the list goes on. In fact, the list actually goes much deeper than you think. So many fascinating wine regions exist in the world, producing exquisite wines of superior quality, yet they often get left in the shadows of their more famous counterparts. We took it to the pros and asked 11 sommeliers around the country which wine regions they deem the most underrated. The results are in!
“Baden, Germany makes some stellar red wines that are beginning to get some attention. There are also quite a few producers in the Languedoc that have proven impressive; the region has a ton of older vines and great soils that growers are choosing to work organically. Clos du Rouge Gorge is one I have in mind, also Léonine is another. Both producers are making wines that show that it is possible to retain freshness and show a sense of place in a region known more for its quantity than quality.” – Kimberly Prokoshyn, Head Sommelier, Rebelle
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“”Alsace! Consumers can sometimes be frightened by the lengthy label names and wide range of wines made by producers, but these are some of the best values in France. In recent tough vintages, with the Loire and Burgundy unable to produce much wine, sommeliers have started to rediscover this small corner of France. Producers like Ostertag, Boxler and Meyer Fonné craft wines with soul and care that are absolutely wondrous with food.” – Victoria James, Beverage Director of Piora & Cote, Author of DRINK PINK, A Celebration of Rosé
“It depends on the market you are located. Here in NYC, probably Galicia, Alsace, wines from South Africa or Australia, but also red wines from Austria.” – Michael Engelmann, Wine Director at The Modern & Cafés at MoMa, Untitled and Studio Café at The Whitney
“I feel especially enchanted by the beautiful Mencias of Ribeira Sacra in Galicia. They’re meaty, but vibrant, carefully cultivated on the beautiful terraces that line the Rio Sil. I am also quite partial to Rieslings from the Clare Valley in Australia — bone dry and beautifully aromatic, their unique kaffir lime nose is refreshing and complex.” – Elllie Bufkin, Assistant Wine Director, Maialino
“Zenata in Morocco, Saint-Pourçain in France, Emilia-Romagna & Calabria in Italy, Hunter Valley in Australia, Swartland in South Africa.” – Matt Kaner, Wine Director and Owner of Bar Covell, Augustine Wine Bar, Dead or Alive Bar, AM/FM Wines
“Romania? Burgenland? Dundee Hills? In the current wine world that we live in, bottlings, producers, grape varieties go really beyond the stereotype of their region. The idea of terroir and typicity is becoming ever more blurry as winemakers are trying to set themselves apart from their neighbor, trying to be their own man or woman. The most underrated wine regions are the ones that are poo-pooed by a guest, a sommelier, a critic just because they are from a certain region. If you say “oh I don’t like wines from Washington” – it is impossible for someone to just write off an entire wine producing area because of 1 or 2 bad experiences. Keep tasting wines from areas that you don’t think you like because there is bound to be at least one producer from Aconcagua Valley in Chile that also hates wines from that region and wants to make something better.” – Jon McDaniel, Beverage Director, Acanto, The Gage, The Dawson, Beacon Tavern, Coda di Volpe
“I think without a question that Greek wines punch way above their weight class, and are hardly recognizable to the general wine-buying public because of harder-to-pronounce varietals and regions. That being said, the white wines of Santorini and the reds from northwest Greece are steals on most wine lists, and tend to make for super interesting pairings.” – Nathan Lithgow, Sommelier, Sauvage