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.
The beautiful Israeli region of Galilee is one of the most famous sites in the world when it comes to cultural and religious history, and yet the wines of this dry and arid region are yet to really make a big impact on the wine stores of the western world. However, the high quality of the produce being made in the region could change all this, as the past few years have been exceptionally good for vintners in Galilee, with a wide range of imported French grape varietals having flourished in the vineyards around the fertile base of Mount Tabor. Perhaps surprisingly, given the difference in climatic conditions, Bordeaux grapes make up for most of the varietals planted in Galilee, and SÃ©millon, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot can be found growing extremely well all over the region. Helped by the volcanic basalt soils, these grapes produce wonderfully characterful and flavorful wines, enjoyed by kosher observing Jewish communities and others all over the world.
Israel has long been a country associated with wines, with plenty of historical evidence pointing out the significance of wines in biblical times and most likely even before then. Of course, when the country was under Islamic rule, many of the vineyards were destroyed and wine production ceased completely, but today Israel enjoys a thriving wine industry and is frequently recognized as a producer of fine wines which have a growing global audience, helped by the fact that most wines of the country are made with kosher certification. Israel enjoys a Mediterranean climate, and has plenty of mineral rich soil on which to grow vines. There are several micro climates across the country, formed by the geographical features of the land, and wineries have had a long and successful relationship with the imported French grape varietals which flourish there.