2008 saw very high yields across wineries in much of the southern hemisphere, as a result of highly favorable climatic conditions. Although in many areas, these high yields brought with them something of a drop in overall quality, this could not be said for South Australia's wines, which were reportedly excellent. Indeed, the 2008 Shiraz harvest in South Australia is said to be one of the most successful in recent decades, and western Australia's Chardonnays are set to be ones to watch out for. New Zealand's Pinot Noir harvest was also very good, with wineries in Martinborough reportedly very excited about this particular grape and the characteristics it revealed this year.
Pinot Noir also grew very well in the United States, and was probably the most successful grape varietal to come out of California in 2008, with Sonoma Coast and Anderson Valley delivering fantastic results from this grape. Elsewhere in United States, Washington State and Oregon had highly successful harvests in 2008 despite some early worries about frost.
However, it was France who had the best of the weather and growing conditions in 2008, and this year was one of the great vintages for Champagne, the MÃ©doc in Bordeaux, Languedoc-Roussillon and Provence, with Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay grapes leading the way. Italy, too, shared many of these ideal conditions, with the wineries in Tuscany claiming that their Chianti Classicos of 2008 will be ones to collect, and Piedmont's Barberesco and Barolo wines will be recognized as amongst the finest of the past decade.
In many ways, Hungary is an unlikely candidate for one of Europe's most ideal locations for wine production and viticulture. It enjoys long hot summers, balmy warm autumns and late frosts. Its soils are rich in minerals, fed by the mighty river Danube, and there is a wine culture here which stretches back to the Romans and which influenced the rest of the world. Today, Hungary's wines remain relatively unknown in the wider world, despite their importance in wine history. The sweet and viscous wines of the Tokaj region are a testament to the quality of Hungary's produce â€“ made using noble rot on the vines, they are intense, highly aromatic and quite unlike anything else on earth. Once the favorite of European royalty, Hungarian wines today are something of a well kept secret, enjoyed by serious wine lovers looking for something a little different.