Through the Grapevine: 6 experts weigh in on the world of modern wine

The Case for Wine from Cold Countries

By Erin Rolek, General Manager, The Bachelor Farmer


Erin Rolek // Illustration by Brent Schoonover

One can not disregard Spain, Southern France, or the whole of Italy when discussing the most majestic and important wines of all time. My personal favorites, however, come from cooler places such as Germany, Austria, and Northern France. There is a purity and playfulness found in wines grown in these colder regions, and a real joyfulness to be unearthed when drinking them.

Grapes that grow in colder conditions struggle to get ripe, unlike those in hotter temperatures. In theory, the longer a grape takes to ripen on a vine, the more time it has to develop complex flavors, reflect the soil from where it’s rooted, and maintain lively acidity. (Acid with finesse is often a flavor profile wine lovers long to discover.) Since vines in cooler regions have a difficult battle to fight during the growing season, one could assume that additional care is then demanded from those that tend to them.

Generally, you would hope this means an increasingly nimble relationship between vigneron and vineyard. Watchful consideration of the health and development of grapes naturally leads to a higher quality wine in the end. Does that mean all grapes grown in these areas have a more meticulous eye observing their evolution than those grown in warmer climates? Definitely not. Does it mean there may be more potential for attention to be paid? I would argue, yes.

Colder climate wines possess an inherent talent to pair with a wide range of foods. Varieties like grüner veltliner, pinot noir, scheurebe, or Gamay, for example, are filled with intricate fruit expression alongside refreshing acidity, making few wines as inviting to drink with a meal. They also tend to be lower in alcohol, so those glasses can keep flowing.

Above all, my heart forever belongs to the riesling grape of Germany. The pleasure of sipping a glass of riesling (in whatever form may it be: dry, sweet, rich, or delicate) is an experience that has rarely been matched for me and certainly never beaten.

Next page: Bubbles are the New Rosé

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