There seem to be bucket lists for everything these days. So how about a bucket list featuring red wine from the New World to drink before you die?
There are many wonderful red wines produced around the world but few reach the level of being labelled “iconic”. Only a small percentage of these “iconic” red wines hail from the New World wine-producing countries but there are many others which are “not quite iconic but still wonderful”.
Below is a selection of great red wines from the New World wine producing countries. The list is by no means exhaustive and additions to the selection are invited and welcomed. These red wines are all worth seeking out but be aware that the wines will vary in quality depending on the vintage and that the majority of them will need aging for several years to experience them at their best.
Australia is home to arguably the most famous red wine to emerge from the New World, Penfolds Grange. Perhaps unusually for a premium red wine the grapes for this world famous Shiraz are not sourced from a single vineyard but from a wider area so that the winemakers can select the very best grapes. Be prepared to pay several hundred pounds for a bottle but remember you will be drinking a legend.
If you cannot justify paying silly money for a bottle of Grange there are plenty of other cult Australian Shiraz labels available. Penfolds themselves offer two other premium Shiraz labels at a lower price than Grange – RWT and Magill Estate – both of which are still exceptional examples of this popular Aussie red wine grape. Other labels which prompt Aussie Shiraz buffs to start salivating include Henschke Hill of Grace; Hardy’s Eileen Hardy; D’Arenberg Dead Arm; Jim Barry The Armagh and Tim Adams Aberfeldy. Other prestige Australian labels include Wynns from the Coonawarra region, especially the John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon and Cape Mentelle and Leeuwin Estate from Margaret River.
New Zealand’s most famous cult wine is a white – Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc. However, Cloudy Bay’s premium red wine range is also worth investigating. New Zealand has a growing reputation for its Pinot Noir wines but many of its best reds are Bordeaux-style blends of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. If you want to try New Zealand’s best red wines look out for Hawkes Bay winery Te Mata and its Awatea and Coleraine Cabernet Merlot blends; the Larose Bordeaux blend from Waiheke Island’s Stonyridge winery and the Cabernet Merlot from Goldwater Estate, also from the Waiheke Island region.
The USA is producing many fine red wines which can challenge some of the best in the world, particularly in California. Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars and Opus One, both from the Napa Valley, are probably among the most famous and most expensive of California’s premium reds. Stag’s Leap Fay Cabernet Sauvignon is claimed by many to be one of California’s best examples of the red wine grape. Another Napa Valley winery, Screaming Eagle, has achieved cult status for its Cabernet Sauvignon by producing just 200 or so cases each year. Another Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon worth trying is the Hillside Select by Shafer wine estate.
California is also famous for its Pinot Noir and Zinfandel. For top class Pinot Noir look out for Au Bon Climat and Sanford Winery, both from Santa Barbara County. California’s most famous Zinfandel comes from the Ravenswood winery in the Sonoma district; old vines are responsible for the intense Old Hill Zinfandel.
Chile and Argentina have not yet reached California’s level of prestige for their red wine but there are a handful of wine estates producing top class reds. The Cuvee Alexandre from Casa Lapostelle in Chile’s Rapel Valley is a Merlot which can match the quality of Bordeaux’s Grand Cru Classe Chateaux. Concha y Toro in the Santiago region is one of Chile’s best red wine producers and its Syrah is worth a try. Argentina’s best Malbec is produced by Catena and Weinart wineries. Catena winery in the Cordoba region has had the help of a former winemaker at California’s legendary Opus One wine estate and its Malbec resembles the famous “black wine” produced in the French region of Cahors. Weinert’s Cavas de Weinart Malbec, produced in the Buenos Aires region, is also exceptional.
South African wine is improving in quality all the time. Whilst it may not boast as many prestige labels as Australia or the USA, its top wine estates are producing some world class red wines. One of the best Pinot Noirs is produced by Hamilton Russell Vineyards in the southerly Overberg region. Meerlust Estate in the Stellenbosch region best known for its Cabernet and its Cabernet Merlot blend Rubicon. Cabernet Sauvignon is also the signature red wine grape at the famous in Stellenbosch at Backsberg Estate in the Paarl region.
Image by Valerie Everett.