The year 2011 was an interesting year for many northern and central European countries, as the weather was more than unpredictable in the spring and summer. However, in most countries, the climatic conditions thankfully settled down in the late summer and fall. The result of this slightly difficult year of weather in France was a set of surprisingly small yields, but overall, these yields were of a higher quality than those harvested in certain previous years. A fantastic set of wines was also made in Italy and Spain, and the Rioja wines - when released - are set to be very good indeed. Austria also had superb year in 2011, with almost fifty percent more grapes being grown and used for their distinctive Gruner Veltliner wines than in the year before. Possibly the European country which had the finest 2011, though, was Portugal, with wineries in the Douro region claiming this year to be one of the best in decades for the production of Port wine, and the bright, young Vinho Verdes wines.
In the New World, the Pacific Northwest saw some of the best weather of 2011, and Washington State and Oregon reportedly had a highly successful year, especially for the cultivation of high quality red wine grapes. Chile and Argentina had a relatively cool year, which certainly helped retain the character of many of their key grape varietals, and should make for some exciting drinking. South Africa had especially good weather for their white wine grape varietals, particularly Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, and many South African wineries are reporting 2011 as one of their best years in recent memory.
There are few countries in the world with a wine history as long or as impressive as that of Lebanon. Indeed, the Phoenicians who once lived on the coastal areas of the country were amongst the first people to spread viticulture around their empire, and wine was being imported from Lebanon into ancient Egypt almost five thousand years ago. Today, wine production in Lebanon remains strong, with over half a million cases of wine being produced annually. In fact, the last decade or so has seen wine production in Lebanon increase enormously, with new wineries opening each year in the eastern part of the country, near the Syrian border where the climatic conditions are more favorable for viticulture. Whilst modern wineries in Lebanon prefer to use classic French grape varietals, there is an increasing interest in using native grapes, which are producing some highly characterful results.