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Wine production in France is one of the most diverse and varied on earth. This is due to the differences in climate and geography that can be found among its wine-producing regions. French wines are produced in 8 different regions, which are those of Champagne, Alsace, Burgundy, Loire Valley, Medoc, South West France and those with a Mediterranean influence.
France produces a stunning 60 million hectoliters from the 800,000 hectares of vine cultivars in the country. The quality of those wines is determined by two factors of utmost importance: the “terroir,” or region where the wine is produced, and the “controlled term of origin” system.
Vines cultivated in France, which originated there and were then exported around the world, are Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc. Nowadays, all of them are among the most important vines in many quality vineyards.
Spanish wine has its origins in the southwest coasts of Andalusia for centuries, Spain had only two important wine-producing regions: Jerez (the oldest one) and Rioja. Today, the situation is a very different one, since Spain has become very important, both for its economic power and for its position of leadership as the 1st wine-producer in the world.
In Spain there are 1.15 million hectares among the 17 Autonomous Communities, which produce red wines, white wines, rosé wines, sparkling wines, and liquorous and semi-liquorous wines. Moreover, Spain has the largest vineyards in Europe.
Spanish wine production, with the incorporation of new technologies in the production of wine, has allowed its wines to steadily increase in quality throughout the years. Given Spain's diverse climates and soils, the cultivation of autoctonous stock, like Albariño, Tempranillo or Garnacha, of worldwide renown, is carried out in ideal conditions. All this is the result of the development and the prestige attained by great Spanish wineries, like: Osborne, Enate, Grupo Pesquera, Vega Sicilia, Protos, Torres , C.V.N.E or Marqués de Cáceres. Finally, denominations of origin have reasserted their worldwide renown. These are La Rioja, Ribera del Duero or El Priorat.
Spain is a synonym of wine and good food.
Portugal wines hold the sixth place as a wine-producing country in the world, and it is the third in the production of Oloroso wines. A distinctive feature of this country is that vines are cultivated at a certain height, so as to reduce the risk of mildew, especially in the north.
Portuguese wine is produced in a climate that is ideal for vine-growing. It often rains in the northern part of the vine-growing region, except in the area of Alto Douro, where summers are long, luminous and extremely hot.
Portuguese wines are classified considering three different aspects: the production process, the systems for elaboration and the types of wines. Thus, we can find the Vinho Verde (green wine), which is a young, fresh and acid wine, the mature wine, produced and aged by making use of the current, regular system and finally, the rosé wine.
Italian vineyardsare probably the oldest vineyards in the world. Besides, Italy is one of the world's leading wine producers, having a wide variety of wines which originate in the mountainous regions of the country.
Italy cultivates an almost infinite number of grape varieties, although the most traditional grapes are the ones that are cultivated the most, due to centuries of tradition. This is why, among the red stock, we can find Zinfandel, Dolcetto, Nebbiolo, Bonarda Piamontese, Marcemino or Pinot Nero. Among the white grapes, the names that stand out are Cortese, Vernaccia di San Gimignano or Italian Riesling.
Italy has 18 different vine-growing regions, all of them of international renown and reputation, such as the regions of Piedmont, Lombardy, Tuscany, Lazio and Campania.
German vineyards are set as far north as possible, without interfering in the process of maturation of the grape, in lands that are not adequate for normal agriculture. In German vineyards, the essences of the grapes are blended with those of the soil, and the result are wines with low alcohol content and with little body, with tinges of flavour and an intense aroma.
German wines are originated in the Rhine and its affluents, at the point where the 11 vine-growing regions of the country connect. Vineyards extend from the country's limit with Switzerland, in the south, to Bonn, in the north of the country, through Schloss Johannisberg, in the region of Rheingau. The best vineyards are in the north, and they are never found higher than 160 meters above sea level.
German wines have a tendency towards balance, their aroma depends on the soil, the vineyard and the variety of the grape used. That explains the importance of the altitude and the slope of the land, as well as that of the drainage provided by the slates and the presence of extremely aromatic varieties, like the Riesling.
South Africa wines have lands that are virtually perfect for vine-growing. Vineyards have been established in landscapes with great contrasts, at the foot of grey and blue mountains that meet valleys of intense green in the summer and fiery red in the autumn. Its Mediterranean climate, with rains during the winter and with long, dry summers toned down by the sea breeze, is ideal for vine-growing.
South Africa offers a wide range of wines, which includes Ports, Sherries, pudding wines, robust and light red wines, young, aged, aromatic white wines, sparkling wines and brandy.
South African vineyards use 75% of the land available for the cultivation of white grapes, such as Chenin, Muscat, Chardonnay, Ugni Blanc, Rhine Riesling or South African Riesling. Red-wine varieties of grapes include mainly Pinotage, Cinsault, Syrah, Alicante Bouschet or Tinta Barroca.
Chile has a long-standing tradition of wine production. Since the days when there was a strong influence of Spanish customs, Chilean production has become more well-established, with the consequences that it has reached its current standing as a synonym of the best New World wines.
Chile's best wines are basically produced in the valleys found in the centre of the country. These are the valleys of Casablanca, Maipo, Maule, Curicó, Rapel and Colchagua, where there are improved varieties of French grapes, both as regards blends and maturation techniques.
Furthermore, Chile claims to be the only place in the world where the Carménère grape can be found. This grape was considered extinct until 1990, when it was rediscovered. Among the red wines, Chile offers varietal wines like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Carménère, with Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Malbec and Pinot Noir grapes. As regards white wines, the names of its varietals are Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, and as for grapes, the most widely used are the Colombard and the Chardonnay.
Wine-production in Australia has seen a spectacular development in the past few years. For the last 15-20 years, its exports have grown to 350 million litres and the number of wineries has scaled to 1,350. Additionally, Australia bets on doubling these figures over the next decade.
The wine industry in Australia is making the most of the new technologies and flexibility available. There are no designations of origin, and the wineries can produce different wines and varieties, as they keep a single geographic control over them.
Wine in Australia is produced mainly in the south-east of the island, in a climate that resembles that of the Mediterranean, but with somewhat longer autumns. This allows for a longer period of ripening of the grapes, which gives the wine more body and alcohol content than in Mediterranean wines.
Wines in Australia come from French vines with American rootstock. Some of the white varieties found there are Chardonnay, Muscat, Semillon, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc. As regards the white varieties, they also make use of classic grapes: Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Monastrell.
The United States, the fourth country among the main wine-producers in the world after France, Italy and Spain, produces wine in virtually every state. Of all of them, California is the most important vine-growing region in the country, followed by Washington, Oregon and New York.
United States' vineyards cover an area of more than 4,500 square kilometers, and the main wine -producing regions are the West Coast, the Rocky Mountains, the South West of the country, the East Coast and the region of the Great Lakes
Wine producers in the United States use three different types of vines, categorised according to their origins. The vitis vinífera species, of European origin, like Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cariñena, Garnacha, Barbera or Merlot, among the red grapes, and the Colombard, Chardonnay or Sémillon for the white grapes. The second group is that of indigenous grapes, such as Mission, Catawba or Vitis Labrusca. Finally, we can find the new varieties, produced through crosses and graftings.
Argentina does not have a long wine-making history. The aging of its wines, as we know it these days, is of a maximum of 10 years, but the incredible boost it has had so far makes producers very proud of their achievements and, above all, of what the future will bring.
Wines from Argentina are produced in a wide area of over 2,400 kilometers, which runs from the provinces of Salta to Río Negro, along the foot of the Andes mountains. The combination of wide thermal fluctuation and sunny weather prevalent in the area favours a process of ripening of the grapes of excellent quality.
There are many different types of wines in Argentina. Red wine varieties, encompass Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Syrah, Tempranillo, Merlot and Pinot Noir, and white wines include Chardonnay, Torrontés, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Riesling and Viognier.
New Zeland wines have become extremely successful, and have become all the rage in the vine-growing world. The Northern Island has more vineyards, but it is on the Southern island where production of white wines is speeding up. These white wines are being produced by late harvesting of the Riesling grapes.
Wine production in New Zeland is following in the footsteps of its neighbour, Australia. In a market as wide as that of wines, it can be considered quite successful. New Zeland is basing its reputation on mild wines, currently the ones with the most demand, with the help of new technologies, both for the process of production and for the wineries themselves.
The main varieties of white grapes grown in New Zeland are Breidecker, July Muscat, Planet, Chardonnay, Müller-Thurgau, Chenin Blanc, Riesling, Muscat, Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, Palomino and Gewürztraminer. For red wines, the preferred varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Pinotage
Vineyards in Greece have a long tradition, and many of them date back to between the thirteenth and eleventh centuries BC. In those times, cultivation was very similar to the way it is done today, with vines planted in parallel rows. Pruning is also done in different ways, depending on the stock, the soil and the strength of the wind.
The younger vineyards are spread out over 8,000 hectares rich with quality, indigenous stock, which have survived with the same denominations for years. These varieties have always been cultivated in the Mediterranean climate prevalent in Greece. That climate is one of the most suitable climates for quality vineyards with personality, like the ones the country has.
There are more than 300 varieties, among which we can highlight Liatiko, Fotsifali, Mavoudi, Amorgiano, Athiri, Negoska, Trani Muscat, Muscat, White Muscat and Muscat of Alexandria, Limnio, Monemvassia and Aidani.
The United Kingdom is not a large-scale producer of wine, but it produces white wines obtained from hybrid grapes and grape varieties obtained from crossing different grapes. Vineyards are situated in the south of the country. They are concentrated on slopes facing the East and the South of England. In these lands, the Gulf Coast breezes tone down the severity of the British climate.
British wine is considered, in the European Union, as Wine of the Country. British regulations establish different types of wines according to its origins, and the English Viticultural Association is in charge of awarding a distinction to the best of them.
The United Kingdom classifies its wines according to the following criteria: English Wine, which is the wine obtained from the fermentation of grapes grown in England, and British-Made Wine, which is the wine produced with imported musts or concentrated grape juice plus alcohol.
Viticulture in India has a long history. Experts date it back to Indus Valley civilization. But the prohibition of alcohol due to religion issue and public opinion limited its growth.
But since the appartition of a middle class, winemaking in India is growing again since the late 1980s and early 1990s as a result of globalization and liberal economic measures.
But, lets face it, Viticulture is almost zero in India nowadays. Whisky is the favorite drink of indian connaisseurs. But, the wine economy is emerging, both producing and consuming.