Lauren Friel on October 6, 2016 0 Comments Want to get ahead of the wine curve? Set your sights (and cellar investments) on these up-and-coming regions. 1. El Dorado, California It’s true that California owes most of its vinous glory to the Napa Valley, but El Dorado is proving itself a contender, especially as current wine trends favor nuance and acidity over the bombast and jam Napa is famous for producing. El Dorado’s soaring elevation (up to 3,500 feet) and cool microclimate mean a multitude of varieties — from chardonnay to mourvèdre — can thrive there. Wines from producers like Donkey & Goat, Edmunds St. John, and La Clarine Farm have been turning heads in recent years, and the rest of the California wine industry is taking note; several Napa Valley producers are showing interest in the region, making proprietary wines from some of the better-known vineyards. Though this is to the chagrin of the original El Dorado set — as it suggests the boutique market is about to get more competitive — it’s an indication that you might want to pay a bit more attention to the Sierra Foothills AVA. Shop for Wine on Amazon 2. Portugal Spain’s success in the Western market paved the way for wines from the Iberian Peninsula, so it makes sense that Portugal is following quickly behind. Historically, the greater language barrier and more traditional winemaking practices that distinguished Portugal from Spain in the eyes of the West made it a more difficult sell. The market favored the cheap and cheerful whites of Vinho Verde, but our association with Portuguese wines more or less ended there; native grapes like baga and touriga nacional could be aggressive and burly out of the gate, and we thought we had all we wanted with Port. As interest in exploring the wide world of wine grows, however, Portugal’s proximity to Spain (and US shores) is finally in its favor, as stylistic lines are drawn between Rioja and the Douro and more Americans hop the quick, 4-hour flight to Lisbon for cheap long weekend getaways. There’s a lot to love from Portuguese wines, including classics from Luis Pato and more adventurous bottles from his daughter, Filipa. 3. Greece Greece’s economy may still be struggling, but its wine industry is making strides. A new darling among the sommelier set, Greece’s wide range of terroir — everything from mountains to volcanic islands — makes it one of the world’s most versatile winegrowing countries. Look to Assyrtiko from Santorini for briny, Chablis-esque expressions, or Moschofilero from the Peloponnese for an aromatic, Sauvignon Blanc equivalent. If red’s more your thing, there’s plenty of that, too: deep, rustic reds made from native xinomavro, soft-fruit driven agiorgitiko and everything in-between. Look for both entry-level and collectible bottles from producers like Gai’a, Sigalas, Parparoussis, Karydas, and Gerovassiliou. 4. Georgia Largely untouched by modern winemaking influences, the rustic wines of Georgia started earning attention from cult wine collectors thanks to Blue Danube, the import company that started bringing wines from sought-after producers like Pheasant’s Tears and Kindzmarauli to New York in 2002. New York sommeliers fell in love quickly, and New York natural wine matriarch Alice Feiring did, too, publishing For The Love Of Wine: My Odyssey Through The World’s Most Ancient Wine Culture to critical acclaim last year. For The Love Of Wine: My Odyssey Through The World’s Most Ancient Wine Culture by Alice Feiring What’s so exciting about Georgian wines? Because the region is relatively removed from the international wine sphere, you’ll find producers who operate as though time stands still and wines that drink like they might have three hundred years ago. Clay qvevri (akin to amphorae) are still preferred fermentation vessels (orange wine, anyone?), and native grapes like rkatsitelli and saperavi dominate, meaning a bottle of Georgian wine is often a brand-new sensory adventure for the lucky drinker. It’s also an inexpensive and beautiful country to travel to, meaning it’s a ripe destination for tourists hungry for the romance of wine travel. 5. Finger Lakes Once a destination better known for Riesling and kitsch than much else, a new generation of producers is forging a new future for the New York AVA, and it’s looking good. Sparkling wines from Lamoreaux Landing make excellent Champagne alternatives, and refined Riesling from producers like Anthony Road and Boundary Breaks show what the region is capable of doing with the noble grape. There are phenomenal reds to be found, too, particularly from grapes like Cabernet Franc and the aforementioned Georgian variety saperavi. There’s even orange wine from Keuka Lake Vineyards. Of course, as New York goes so goes the wine world, and the region’s proximity to Manhattan doesn’t hurt its momentum, with more and more sommeliers adding entries from the Finger Lakes to their wine lists. 6. Chile Like Greece, Chile’s expansive terroir means winemakers have the benefits of mountains, coastal climes, and sun-soaked valleys to play with. Put it all together, and Chilean wines offer plenty of versatility in your glass. While it’s true that Chile used to be a go-to for the super-cheap (and often forgettable) stuff, quality has skyrocketed in recent years, thanks again to a younger generation of producers focused on quality via low yields and more natural winemaking methods. Now, Chile is one of the southern hemisphere’s most promising growing regions, offering up approachable expressions of sauvignon blanc and chardonnay alongside deep, powerful reds from carménère, cabernet sauvignon and carignane (the “three C’s”). Carménère is an especially exciting grape for the region, as it’s one of the only places in the world that grows the Bordeaux variety, and certainly the only one where it’s so widely planted. If you’re a Left Bank Bordeaux lover, or even a Cabernet Franc lover, look for bottles of this unique grape for power and age-worthiness. Check out producers like Veramonte and Emiliana for a laissez-faire approach to winemaking that results in deep, soulful wines.