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.
Hungary was once considered one of the world's leading wine countries, with their distinctive and flavorful wines being the favorites of Europe's royal families until the early 20th century and the fall of the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary. The Soviet Union all but obliterated Hungary's wine traditions, replacing their unique produce with the sweet and characterless red wines the country is still often associated with, yet thankfully, the past twenty five years has seen an impressive return to form. All over the historic Tokaj region, craftsmen and master vintners are using the grape varietals which thrive on the hillsides in the hot summers and long autumns to once again produce the amazingly flavored Tokaji wines â€“ a wine made by allowing the grapes to wither on the vine, thus concentrating the sugars and producing remarkable flavors and aromas of marzipan, dried fruits, pear and candied peel.