Social and Climate Changes Are Rearranging the Worlds Best Vineyards

An ideal way to keep track of these changes is “The World Atlas of Wine”

First published in 1971, “The World Atlas of Wine” by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson has just released its latest edition. The atlas is revised about every six years and is a good way to track the wine world’s latest buzz-worthy vineyard spots. Johnson and Robinson talked over lunch at The Modern in New York about places they have added to the edition and why.

Less than an hour’s drive from Washington D.C., Virginia wine country was added to this addition with a detailed map and two pages of text. “Georgia was quite high up on our add list,” says Robinson, the Republic, not the state. “It’s exporting much more; the wines have improved and are getting international attention.” There are also counter-culture appeals to the wines, which are fermented and aged in clay jars lined with beeswax and buried underground.

Some areas, such as North Africa, have been dropped from the atlas to make room for more active areas. Vintners rush to plant grapes in regions where wine becomes more popular to supply the new demand. Robinson and Johnson have the same opinion that social change is spurring vineyard expansion outside Europe, such as China.

According to the International Organization of Vine and Wine, middle class growth in China is fueling a wine drinking boom. Between 2000 and 2011, vineyard area nearly doubled in China and rose another 19 percent in 2012 alone. At the same time, European vineyards continue to shrink. Southwest of Beijing, in the atlas, Ningxia aims to become China’s most important wine province. Moet Hennessy launched a Chandon sparkling wine facility last June in the province.

Another new map in the atlas is a cooler district just south of Melbourne in the Australian state of Victoria. On the breezy Mornington Peninsula, vine plantings doubled between 1996 and 2008. The region is becoming packed with new producers and a hotbed for fine pinot noir. The 2010 Moorooduc Estate from the region is noteworthy for its silky, spicy yet seductive attributes.

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