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Italian vineyards are among the oldest vineyards in the world. In addition, of course, to being one of the leading wine producers, with a wide variety of wines which are originated in its excessively mountainous geography.
The varieties of grapes cultivated are almost endless, although we can mention traditional stock, which is deeply-rooted in the country. Therefore, among the red stock, we can mention Zinfandel, Dolcetto, Nebbiolo, Bonarda Piamontese, Marcemino or Pinot Nero. Within the white grapes, names like Cortese, Vernaccia di San Gimignano or Italian Riesling stand out.
Italy has 18 distinct wine-producing regions, all of them of intrnational renown and reputation, such as the regions of Piedmont, Lombardy, Tuscany, Lazio and Campania.
Wine production in France is one of the most diverse and varied on earth. This is due to the differences in climate and geography that can be found among its wine-producing regions. French wines are produced in 8 different regions, which are those of Champagne, Alsace, Burgundy, Loire Valley, Medoc, South West France and those with a Mediterranean influence.
France produces a stunning 60 million hectoliters from the 800,000 hectares of vine cultivars in the country. The quality of those wines is determined by two factors of utmost importance: the “terroir,” or region where the wine is produced, and the “controlled term of origin” system.
Vines cultivated in France, which originated there and were then exported around the world, are Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc. Nowadays, all of them are among the most important vines in many quality vineyards.
Spanish wine has its origins in the southwest coasts of Andalusia for centuries, Spain had only two important wine-producing regions: Jerez (the oldest one) and Rioja. Today, the situation is a very different one, since Spain has become very important, both for its economic power and for its position of leadership as the 1st wine-producer in the world.
In Spain there are 1.15 million hectares among the 17 Autonomous Communities, which produce red wines, white wines, rosé wines, sparkling wines, and liquorous and semi-liquorous wines. Moreover, Spain has the largest vineyards in Europe.
Spanish wine production, with the incorporation of new technologies in the production of wine, has allowed its wines to steadily increase in quality throughout the years. Given Spain's diverse climates and soils, the cultivation of autoctonous stock, like Albariño, Tempranillo or Garnacha, of worldwide renown, is carried out in ideal conditions. All this is the result of the development and the prestige attained by great Spanish wineries, like: Osborne, Enate, Grupo Pesquera, Vega Sicilia, Protos, Torres , C.V.N.E or Marqués de Cáceres. Finally, denominations of origin have reasserted their worldwide renown. These are La Rioja, Ribera del Duero or El Priorat.
Spain is a synonym of wine and good food.
Portugal wine is the sixth vine-producing country in the world, and it comes in third in the production of Oloroso wines. One of this country's characteristics is that vines are cultivated at a certain height, in order to prevent damage by mildew, especially in the north.
Portuguese wine is produced in a climate that is ideal for the cultivation of the vines. In the northern part of the vine-growing region, it rains often, with the exception of the area of Alto Douro, where summers are long, luminous and torrid.
Portuguese wines are classified in the following way: taking into account the production, the systems for elaboration and the types of wines. In this way there is the Vinho Verde (green wine), young, fresh and acid, the mature wine, produced and aged by means of the current, normal system and finally, the rosé wine.
German vineyards have been established as far north as the period for maturation of the grape allows, in lands not appropriate for normal agriculture. In German vineyards, the essences of the grapes blend with those of the soil, producing wines with low alcohol content and with little body, with tinges of flavor and an intense aroma.
German wines have their origins in the Rhine and its tributaries, the point of conection among the 11 vine-growing regions of the country. Vineyards extend from the border with Switzerland, in the south, to Bonn, in the north of the country, through Schloss Johannisberg, in the region of Rheingau. The best vineyards are in the northern regions, never at more than 160 meters above sea level.
German wines tend to be balanced, their aroma depends on the soil, the vineyard and the variety of the grape used. That explains the importance of the height and the slope of the land, as well as the importance of the drainage provided by the slates and the presence of very aromatic varieties, like the Riesling.
South African wine is produced in a land that is almost perfect for vine-growing. Vineyards are developed in landscapes with great contrasts, at the foot of grey and blue mountains that become valleys of and intense green in the summer and fiery red in the fall. It has a Mediterranean climate, characterized by rains during the winter and long, dry summers, made gentler by the sea breeze.
The range of South African wines is very wide, and it includes from Ports or Sherries and sweet dessert wines, to robust and light red wines and young, aged, aromatic white wines, as well as sparkling wines and brandy.
South African vineyards devote 75% to the cultivation of white grape varieties, like Chenin, Muscat, Chardonnay, Ugni Blanc, Rhine Riesling or South African Riesling. The varieties of black grape cultivated are mainly Pinotage, Cinsault, Syrah, Alicante Bouschet or Tinta Barroca.
The United States produces wine in practically every state, and is the fourth among the main wine producers in the world, after France, Italy and Spain. Of all its states, California is the most important wine producer in the country, followed by Washington, Oregon and New York.
The vineyards in the United States span an area of more than 4,500 square kilometers, the main wine-producing regions being the West Coast, the Rocky Mountains, the South West of the country, the East Coast and the region of the Great Lakes
Wine producers in the United States use three different types of stock, divided in categories according to their origin. The vitis vinífera species, of European origin, like Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cariñena, Garnacha, Barbera or Merlot, among the red grapes, and the Colombard, Chardonnay or Sémillon for the white grapes. The second group is made up of indigenous stock, such as Mission, Catawba or Vitis Labrusca. The third and last group is formed by the new varieties, produced through crosses and graftings.
Wine production in Chile has a long-standing tradition. Since the early days when there was a strong influence of Spanish customs, Chilean production has consolidated itself, reaching its current standing as an international byword for the best New World wines.
The best wines of Chile are mainly produced in the valleys in the center of the country. These are the valleys of Casablanca, Maipo, Maule, Curicó, Rapel and Colchagua, where there are varieties of French grapes, but with improvements, both as regards blends and maturation techniques.
Chile claims to be the only place in the world where the Carménère grape variety is found. It was considered extinct until 1990, when it was rediscovered. Among the red wines, Chile offers varietal wines like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Carménère, with Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Malbec and Pinot Noir grapes. As regards white wines, the names of its varietals are Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, and as for grapes, the most widely used are the Colombard and the Chardonnay.