If you could drink wine from only a single region for the rest of your life, and someone else was paying, which one would it be? One day I might run a little survey to find out what people think, but for now it is just a thought experiment.
If you only drink red wine, then you may leave the room now, for I think I can guess what the most popular regions would be: Bordeaux, Burgundy, followed by Barolo, Tuscany and Rioja; though if you live in a wine-producing country then you might well vote for it: Chile, USA, Australia, wherever.
It’s not quite so clear for those who drink only white wine: Burgundy (or Chablis) for sure, Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, then … where? For me it would be the Loire, with its Muscadet, Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc, plus some Arbois, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay, and more. Italy offers lots of options though.
Only rosé? Well, take your pick; I have no idea which region sells the most. Provence perhaps.
Only fizz? You might say Prosecco but remember, someone else is paying! Yes, Champagne would win.
But what I would really like to know is the opinion of ‘normal’ drinkers, who like and drink all of these – including sweet wine when the occasion arises.
The winner would probably be Bordeaux again. Claret, white Bordeaux and Sauternes (both usually a Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blend). Clairet for rosé, Crémant de Bordeaux (white or rosé) for fizz. Can’t go wrong.
Burgundy makes great reds and whites but stumbles when it comes to rosé and sweeties. It’s true that the Maconnais does make late harvest and botrytised Chardonnays but they are very rare.
Nowhere in Italy makes both great red wine and great white wine (you may disagree), though sweet wines can usually be found, mostly passito style. South Australians can buy local, also Californians, and Kiwis could do worse than stick with Marlborough: it makes good Pinot Noir and very good sweet Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc. And fizz.
But personally I wouldn’t vote for Bordeaux, because I wouldn’t want to drink their whites for the rest of my life. They can be excellent, of course, but I find the style lacks variety, and anyway the flavours don’t wow me.
I would love to say Rioja as I adore the reds and the whites, but there’s nothing sweet. No, my choice would still be the Loire. What an amazing variety of grapes and styles it offers. I’d happily drink mostly Cabernet Franc with a bit of Gamay, Cab Sav, Malbec and Pinot Noir to ring the changes; the dry whites I’ve already listed, then there’s Anjou rosé, Crémant de Loire, pétillant Muscadet, and every shade of sweetness of Chenin Blanc. And it’s not just that everything is present – it’s that most of it is outstanding. There’s no Sauvignon Blanc I’d rather drink than Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. I think Cabernet Franc is much under-rated. It’s perfumed and elegant and can age as beautifully as Bordeaux, like my little cache of 1976 Château de Ligré. I’d miss the gamut of styles of Riesling but Chenin Blanc can be just as varied and ages just as well. Have you tasted the 1938 Gaston Huet demi-sec? It’s nearly ready for drinking…