Wine as a Destination

Traveling in wine country is more than a one-dimensional pursuit, for where there is wine, there is culture, activity and life at its fullest.

There is nothing like a barrel room.

If you have been able to get past the tasting room and explore the barrel room on a winery visit, you know what I mean. When the forklifts and wine crew are not present, barrel rooms possess a hushed, almost reverent stillness, a church-like aspect that is difficult to convey if you just describe the room itself. Chilly, cavernous and crowded, the barrels, often tinted by weeping wine, fade into the dark horizon. That’s how it appears, but it can also feel like a nursery. Like life, growing.

For a first-time visitor to wine country, it’s just one of the surprises that awaits.

In this issue, we present our selection of the 10 Best Wine Destinations of 2012. Why just 10, when as many as 30 or 40 could easily be chosen?

The point isn’t to nail down a definitive list, since that’s impossible. We are more interested in making sure the list is balanced between Old World and New, and that each region we selected has more than just wineries to offer.

We wanted to convey the variety of destinations and, within that, the wide array of activities, landscapes, culinary possibilities and more—all of which can be found in wine country. Because traveling with wine tasting as the goal reaps rewards that extend far beyond the palate.

Where wine is produced, there is gorgeous scenery, good food, people and their families with firm ties to the land, as well as cultural and outdoor activities. And always, there are surprises. Since surprise and pleasant unpredictability are inherent to travel, we felt that also should be represented. You’ll find the story on page 45.

Also in this issue, Roger Voss examines the 2009 and 2010 vintages in Bordeaux, both hailed as outstanding, and presents the overall characteristics of the wines to help Bordeaux devotees decide which to buy (page 40). It’s an interesting contrast, capturing, in a sense, the whole debate about wines to drink now and those worthy of cellaring.

On page 66, Contributing Editor Michael Schachner offers his recommendations for the best Chilean wines for every occasion, from most food-friendly to best overall.
For those who follow vintage and variation, we present our Vintage Chart on page 38. It’s an excellent guide to the wines of the world, rating the latest standouts and re-evaluating the development of the older vintages.

Take the vintage chart with you when you travel. It’s a reliable guide to the good life, which wine so elegantly represents.

Published on January 13, 2012