New kids on the block

Changes in climate in recent years mean that new wine regions are gradually emerging all over the world, in places we might never have imagined possible to produce wine just a few years ago. The Journal catches up with Jodie Petts at Blackbeard’s to hear if any new wines will be making their way to Cayman consumers any time soon. Business Editor Lindsey Turnbull analyses the potential of the new kids on the block and reports in this first in a series of articles.

The UK ranks low on the wine producing chart at just 63, yet it is slowly coming to the fore when it comes to crisp whites and it is even giving its top wine producing neighbour France a run for its money when it comes to the production of sparkling wines. The current change of temperature in the southern parts of England, along with research showing that the soil conditions and composition are almost identical to the Champagne region of France, means that the recent growth of vineyards growing grapes for sparkling wine is not as foolish as it seems.

Jodie says that England has been producing wine since the late 1960s, but nothing really of note came about until 15 years ago. “German or Alsace grape varietals are mostly grown in England and a few awards have been won,” she says.

From England originally, Jodie has had first hand experience of English vineyards: “I actually grew up in a wine-growing area in Hampshire. I lost my rubber Wellington boot in North Brook Springs when I was about six years old, and they make a delicious sparkler that is a small production but over-priced.”

Jodie thinks price might be a turn-off for importers here in Cayman and states: “It maybe a while until you see anything in Cayman as the prices are generally high, and then you need to add shipping, insurance, duty etc and you are looking at something more expensive than a really good champagne.”

She continues: “However, one winery I love is Wickham Winery. They produce an amazing Fume Blanc and have won several Decanter Bronze Awards in recent years (2006/2008).  It is not too expensive in England (six pounds a bottle at the winery, and around nine to 10 pounds at the village wine merchants in that area.”

Although Brazil has been producing wines for nearly 130 years, wines have only really been worthy of recognition in the last 10 years or so, when Ibravin, the Brazilian Wine institute was created. This has meant more investment has been placed in research and development of wine as a viable industry in Brazil. The main growing region is the Serra Gaucha, where the climate and soil allow for the growing of grapes for both reds like the Cabernet Sauvignon and whites like the Chardonnay.

Jodie thinks this is definitely a region to watch for, but cautions: “I don’t really think they are ready for a huge push on the international market just yet. Generally they produce some amazing sparkling wine and of course it is at a nice low price, but I believe their Tannat (red varietal), which they seem to be producing in great quantities, is better made by small producers in the neighbouring country of Uruguay.

Romania has a history of producing wines going back nearly three thousand years, but it may surprise people to know that it remains one of the largest producers of wine in the world, producing over 500,000 tons a year. The main wine regions are to be found in Cotnari, Tarnave, Murfatlar, and Dealu Mare. Although many of the native varieties of grapes were destroyed by disease, modern production of wines which use more well-known grapes are well worth seeking out. One producer to look out for in particular is Domain Tohani.

Catherine II prized the wines from the region of Crimea region, while the Ukraine was the largest supplier of wines to the USSR. Later, the country faced severe challenges from Soviet attempts to reduce alcohol consumption, which led to the destruction of many vineyards. Now, wines from Ukraine are on the up and up with bright, sweet sparkling wines from Pinot Blanc and Aligote grapes being particularly popular.One producer in particular to look out for is Odessagne Sparkling

Next month read about up and coming wines from Canada, Greece and Switzerland.


Jodie Petts: Brazil is definitely a region to watch