The Hottest Wine Regions Now
According to Master Sommelier Dustin Wilson, here are the top wine travel destinations to visit ASAP.
The co-founder of Verve.com shares the destinations he’s excited to be drinking from.
Wine can be overwhelming, even intimidating. Verve Wine, an online platform with three brick-and-mortar locations in New York, San Francisco and Chicago, aims to make wine approachable and fun. Master Sommelier and co-founder Dustin Wilson has a resume that extends to stints at some of the country’s most lauded restaurants including Eleven Madison Park in New York City and Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder. He’s taken a restaurant hospitality mindset along with his extensive wine expertise and applied it to a retail atmosphere both virtual and in-person. As part of Exclusive Resorts’ new Wine Benefits program, Members get insider access to tastings with Wilson. Here, he shares the regions and luxury wine destinations he’s most excited about, both classic and up-and-coming.
Northern Rhone, France
This is a very classic region slowly becoming more popular. The wines are aromatic and savory in nature—think peppery, charcuterie, black olives. They are great for cold weather and pair well with burgers, steak and game.
I’m not talking about classic Burgundy. Think producers in the backwater areas, like Côte du Nuits where younger generation winemakers—some who didn’t even grow up in Burgundy—are making approachable, accessible wines. I don’t drink expensive wine often so it’s nice to drink a Burgundy that is fun and doesn’t break the bank. They’re making more chiseled and minerally Chardonnays and delicate, aromatic Pinot Noirs. These producers are taking a more natural approach so the wines tend to be fresh and vibrant. They’re wines you can drink right away.
Sierra de Gredos, Spain
Sierra de Gredos is about 45 minutes west of Madrid. The vineyards tend to be higher in elevation and planted on fully decomposed granite. It’s almost total sand. And the vines are old. The wines are very pale, super silky and delicate. They look like a Pinot but smell like a Rhone wine with some savory, peppery characteristics.
Columbia Gorge, Oregon
Everyone knows the Willamette Valley, but there is some really cool stuff happening up in the Columbia Gorge area. I’m seeing a lot of unexpected grape varietals like Mencía, Tempranillo and Verdicchio and the winemakers are pushing the envelope and being super experimental. Nate Reddy of Hiyu Wine Farms doesn’t play by any rules. His wines are really popular with the sommelier crowd right now. He makes very little wine so scoring a bottle is great Instagram fodder.
This is the crescent moon-shaped forgotten place on the southeast coast just north of Tuscany. Pitago is a local white grape varietal similar to Vermentino. It’s salty, briny and high acid so it works well with seafood. Rossese is another varietal that I love from this region. If you like Pinot Noir or Beaujolais you’ll enjoy this light, aromatic red.
Chile and Argentina
The classic, old guard wines from Chile and Argentina are big, juicy Cabs and Malbecs. They are tried and true. But now I’m seeing young producers on the outskirts of the classic areas working with different grape varietals and taking a more hands-off approach to winemaking. I’m seeing varietals like Carignan and Pais, which is similar to Trousseau but a bit funkier and herbaceous. Brazos importers are bringing a lot of interesting wines in from these regions.