Bodegas Benegas (Mendoza)
Outstanding in quality, this winery has a history extending over one hundred years with its original cellars dating to 1901. The Benegas family roots go even further back and notably include the signing of an 1820 Independence Treaty on the farm as well as having many of the family members involved in important political posts. Family patriarch Don Tiburico scoured wine regions for vine cuttings, sharing them with anyone who wanted to grow vines. Don Tiburico founded El Trapiche winery in 1883 but it was sold in 1970. Frederico Benegas Lynch spent a number of years working there, coming under the influence of the El Trapiche winemaker, Angel Mendoza. Frederico then decided to make wines under the Benegas name and repurchased the family vineyard Finca Libertad, and added the Benegas name.
With the assistance of top French wine consultant Michel Rolland and Napa winemaker Paul Hobbs, the grapes are carefully cultivated and selected. Fermentation and maceration are strictly controlled. Benegas-owned vineyards produce exceptional wines that are highly rated by critics. Wines from Finca Libertad and Finca Incerrada can only go up in price as their popularity and reputation grow, so buy now would be my advice. The vines are from seventy to well 100 years and are grown at heights between 800 and 2,800 meters. The Malbec Single Vineyard is available via the LCBO.
Vincola Suzin (Sao Joaquim, Santa Catarina)
1200 meters up in the little village, temperatures reach a daytime high of twenty-eight celsius but fall to a low of five degrees at night. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Montepulciano, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Rebo, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc are grown in small batches thus enabling differentiated treatment of each variety and a concentration on quality products. Using the latest ecological techniques eliminates the need for herbicides. The result is exceptional wine, not yet available in Canada.
Howard’s Folly Winery (Estremoz)
A superb region for wine is the Alentejo Region of Portugal. Howard’s Folly is new on the scene but with an outstanding winemaker who has carved a name for himself worldwide. Businessman Howard Bilton and esteemed winemaker David Baverstock, an Australian who is noted for his avant-garde wines and many accolades including one from the President of Portugal, founded the winery in 2002.
Bilton has a love for Portugal and its wine, especially the Alentejo Region. He became a driving force with the idea of creating a winery that exhibited not only the love of Alentejo wine but also as a contributor to the Art Community. Along with vineyard manager Christina Francisquinho and wine maker Pedro Furriel, they are producing first rate wines that are being recognized world-wide. (Contact winery directly).
Romania has come out of its ‘wine shell’ and is making first rate wine capable of competing with the world’s best. A new ‘guard’ has taken over with the latest in vineyard management and wine making techniques. Add to that Romania’s deep historical significance and superb scenery and you have a winner. Top sommeliers like Zoltan Szabo and Ioana Madalina Danila assist up and coming winemakers in producing great wine.
Crama Histria (Dobrogea)
Not far from the shore of the Black Sea, Crama Histria enjoys sunny days, rich terroir and healing breezes, all of which grow healthy grapes which make superb wine. However, this is just part of the story since the making of fine wine depends also on the skill of the winemaker. Paul Fulea produced his first wine in 2015 on land that was already under vine since 1976. He renamed his winery Crama Histria which now covers some two hundred hectares. The winery produces wine from both international and indigenous grapes such as the (white) Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Muscat, Ottonel, Traminer, Fateaca Regala and (Red) Fateasca Neagra, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
His red hundred percent Cabernet Sauvignon Nikolaos has already won international acclaim with a score of ninety-four points from the Decanter World Wine Awards in 2021. (Maison Nobleza, Quebec)
The United States produces many fine wines but two wineries stand out in my opinion—both from Virginia.
Ankida Ridge (Chestnut Ridge, Blue Ridge Mountains, Amherst County)
The caption on its home page reads “where heaven and earth join” and indeed, the site is truly a heavenly inspiration. Purchased in 1999, a stunningly lovely property with a backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains is only equaled by its beautiful wine. The superb six-acre Pinot Noir vineyard is given the loving care it needs to produce one of the finest Pinots I have ever tasted. Chardonnay and Gamay are also grown. Ankida produces a great Vintage Reserve and a Blanc de Noir sparkling from the Pinot and a sparkling Blanc de Blanc from the Chardonnay. All the wine is delicious.
Both wine and vine experience minimal intervention by the team that picks by hand, and respects all aspects of nature, and takes pride in its work. It is no surprise that Ankida Ridge Wine expresses the best that this lovely terroir has to offer. (Winery direct)
Barboursville (Winery Road Barboursville)
Politician James Barbour (1775-1842) held many posts within the young country including that of Governor of Virginia. He encouraged and oversaw the development of sustainable agriculture on the property. His friend, Thomas Jefferson, designed a mansion for him which was built in 1814. which It tragically burned down on Christmas Day 1864 but its ruins, along with Barbour family cemetery, remain to this day.
In 1976, the Gianni Zonin of winery fame in Veneto, Italy purchased the property with the intent of founding a vineyard. The rest is history with Barboursville being recognized as an outstanding winery making fine wine such as a Bordeaux style, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Barbera, Viognier, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Moscato Ottonel and Vidal. Winemaker Luis Paschina has been with the winery since 1990 and continues to produce superb wine that reflects the Zonin commitment to excellence.
Wineries such as those above are making an impact in the world of wine. Climate change will make other areas conducive to viticulture. Previously unlikely candidates such as the United Kingdom, Finland, Norway, China and Poland, to name a few, are seen as having strong potential for wine production. Parts of the United Kingdom are already making a name for themselves with the production of Traditional Method sparkling wine. Like the wine in the bottle, the wine trade keeps on evolving.