As writer Jason Wilson discovered recently, Europe's Alpine region, in the French and Swiss Alps, is home to rare grapes and unusual wines. But it's not the only unlikely winemaking region in the world. We've discovered four other areas that make notable wines from both ubiquitous grapes like cabernet sauvignon and local varietals like merwah.
Rieslings are starting to overcome their bad rap—but German bottles still suffer the stereotype of being cloyingly sweet. Not the case in Mosel Valley, where the slate-rich soil produces steely, bracing whites. Just look for the word “trocken” on the label. It means dry.
The Mesilla Valley, near the Texas and Mexico borders, is the United States’ oldest wine region: Spanish missionaries planted vineyards in the hot, dry landscape over 400 years ago to make the wine they needed to hold Catholic mass. Now, the area produces such varieties as tempranillo to malvasia bianca. The Gruet winery makes acclaimed sparkling wines from local grapes.
With 5,000 years of practice, it’s safe to say that this region knows how to make some great wine. Though many local vintners use European grapes like cabernet sauvignon and carignan, wines made with native white grapes obeideh and merwah have made a splash with wine critics.
Technically, Bodega Garzón isn’t a region—it’s a winery (and hotel!) northeast of Punta del Este dreamed up by renowned grill master chef Francis Mallmann. But it’s putting Uruguay on the map for its outstanding white varieties including albariño, pinot grigio, and sauvignon blanc. The winery’s most notable bottle? Tannat, a velvety red variety with origins in the Basque region.