For some reason, I have often felt that wines seem to taste ‘extra special’ and are accompanied by enhanced enjoyment in their land of origin. This may just be a subjective impression, but I offer some examples discovered during travel to scientific meetings or field trips:
During trips to Germany we have enjoyed several wine tours to the Rhine region organized by fellow geochemists. The wines of Nahe and Mosel are a particular example of how the terroir brings out the special qualities of Riesling. Never pass up the chance to try the spectacular range of Reislings made by Hermann Dönnhoff. The many different faces of these wines, which extend from the flinty dry to the incomparable elixir that is icewine, are simply astonishing.
The wines of Tenerife (Canary Islands) are also quite remarkable, high quality drops and very unusual for their mode of viticulture. See this website for more information. Definitely worth trying are the wines from Lanzarote.
Sicily is renowned for its red wines made from Nero D’Avola. They are generally inexpensive; try those from the region around Siracusa.
If you ever visit Australia, be sure to try those varieties that are unusual in Europe or North America and yet reliable features of the local wine growing areas down under. Australian wines can be of exceptional quality and there are often relatively inexpensive relatives of the top shelf ones that few can afford.
A good source of information on Australian wines can be found here: http://www.winecompanion.com.au/
Several of my long-time friends and colleagues found life after chemistry (or geology) in viticulture and in making stunning wines. They are part of a young and vibrant wine province in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales. The region is known for its ‘cool climate’ wines with the most successful varieties being riesling, chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, shiraz and pinot noir.
Roger Harris is the winemaker at Brindabella Hills Winery (they also make the Picnic Creek label). The vineyard and winery are on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River and just spitting distance from ‘downtown’ Canberra. Their Canberra region Riesling and the Shiraz (2001 or its promising 2002 successor) are outstanding.
Andrew McEwin, a colleague from my days at Geoscience Australia, is now the proprietor of Kyeema Wines, Murrumbateman NSW, Australia and has won numerous awards for his fine reds.
Some of our other favorites from Australia come from Tulloch Wines in the Hunter Valley, just two hours drive north of Sydney. Try their Semillon, Verdelho and Private Bin Dry Red (Hunter Shiraz).
The Barossa and Clare regions of South Australia are renowned for aromatic, steely dry Rieslings. Try Henschke Julius, Pewsey Vale, Yalumba and Leo Buring wines from Eden Valley, Grosset, and Jim Barry wines from Clare.
The Coonawarra region of South Australia produces affordable, yet fabulous Cabernet Sauvignon wines. There are many great wines to be found here but some reliable old favorites are from Wynns Coonawarra Estate (especially black label), Katnook Estate and Majella.
All Saints, Morris and Campbells of Rutherglen produce some spectacular and unusual fortified wines, especially those from muscat and tokay.
If you ever see Tahbilk Marsanne on a wine list, try it!
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