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 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.