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.
Hungary is a country not always readily associated with wines and viticulture, and yet this central European country has one of the most unique and important wine cultures in the Old World. The regions around Lake Balaton produce many of the most elegant and flavorful white wines to be found anywhere, characterized by their slight sweetness and flavors of elderflower and gooseberry. However, it is the historic Tokaj region which really shines as Hungary's premier wine producing area, as this is the home to the 'noble rot' wines which carry such interesting and unique flavors and aromas, adored by serious wine lovers worldwide and influencing vintners across the globe. Tokaji wines tend to be slightly viscous, and packed full of surprising notes of marzipan, dried apricot and candied peel, and are a great example of Hungary's exciting wine culture and history.