Ranking The World’s Most Ass-Kicking Wine Regions (Wined Down)

Vinted on September 26, 2012 binned in Wined Down (Playboy.com)

Last week, my Playboy.com column ran a list of The Five Most Ass-Kicking Wine Regions, which I dubbed “The 2012 Edition” because I hope to run the list annually, kind of like the annual Most Interesting Wines of the Year round-up that runs here every December.

I expect – and probably deserve – to take some flack for that list.

Why? Because like the MIWs, my list of vinous ass-kickers is somewhat arbitrary, in that it’s not based on any statistical breakdown, but on what my experience tasting and visiting wine regions during the year has shown me. It was not born in the fiery hot cauldron of intense scientific research. In other words, it’s a list of the wine regions that I’m personally really excited about right now. So not only is it a bit arbitrary, it also appeared on an outlet that gets a sh*t-ton of website traffic. Having said that, I’m still prepared to stand confidently behind the list, since it’s being provided under the assumption that I finally know what the hell I’m talking about when I offer up this kind of stuff.

The list highlights the five winemaking areas that are producing juice that has been giving me goose-bumps this year, and that gets me eagerly licking my chops in anticipation when wines that have those regions emblazoned on the label happen to cross the path of my stemware. As I mentioned in the column, the members on that list “give you a perspective on who in the wine world is really getting it right, right now.”

The list itself is below in the order in which I ranked them for Playboy.com, but you’ll need to go over and read the column to get the skinny on why each region was chosen – though if you’re like me (i.e., have a red-blooded pulse and find yourself attracted to females) then you’ll certainly run the risk of finding the surrounding scenery somewhat… distracting. Anyway, here ‘tis!

5) Champagne
4) Santa Barbara
3) Friuli
2) Barossa
1) West Sonoma Coast

Let the flacking begin! But before you unleash to tell me whether or not I got this list right, I should tell you that we’re working on some intensely cool material for Wined Down… not that I think that should cut me any slack…






  • masi3v

    I saw nothing wrong with 'West Sonoma Coast'–many out there (Hirsch, Flowers, etc.) want to distinguish themselves from the rest of the appellation since it is so effing huge. They often say "extreme" instead of "west" but what is the big deal? I guess a lot of the readers over there might be, um, 'frustrated' so they take it out on you?

    • 1WineDude

      Masi – actually, it's mostly been in emails from regions that didn't get included! :)

  • Dusty

    I don't have enough experience in many regions (only been to Santa Barbara out of these) to assume to tell you that you are wrong. I'll be noting this list as more of a "to do" list!

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Dusty!

  • Terry Hall

    Flack? Don't be sillly my friend…perhaps some good-natured snark and a note to self to turn up the "ass-kick-ometer" when we see you next in Napa Valley :)

    • 1WineDude

      Terry – well stated! :)

  • Michael Wade

    I'm happy to see you didn't succumb to trying to be "too cool for skool" by leaving off such a historic region like Champagne. I'm on a personal quest to try and get more Americans to drink bubbles on occasions besides NYE and weddings…like Tuesday nights. I personally think its the most versatile drink not called water.

    • 1WineDude

      Michael – amen!

  • PaulG

    Dude – TWO from California and NOTHING from the Northwest? C'mon, you can do better!

    • 1WineDude

      Paul – you homer!!! ;-)

  • Fred Aliano

    Joe, with West Sonoma Coast at the top of your list, you will get zero 'Flack' from me. This is definitely the Wine Region that has my attention right now.

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Fred!

  • Christopher O'Gorman

    Whew, tough leave out Piedmonte, Southern Rhone, and… Napa.

    • 1WineDude

      Christopher – S. Rhone? Got a lot on my list ahead of that. Not that great wines aren't being made there, of course…

  • Jason Lewis

    Uh, let's see . . .
    First of all, it isn't a matter of flak — nor (solely) a matter of personal opinion. If it was, you'd never get any agreement, as we all have our personal likes and dislikes. That said,

    5) Champagne is a good pick, as it's probably making some of the finest wines in its (recent) history; picking it because it's always "on the list" isn't a good reason. 4) Over on Playboy, you wrote "There is very little climatic variation in S.B., so vintages are fairly predictable in the region." I don't know about you, but for me, that makes a region rather boring. (Don't get me wrong; if I owned the winery, I'd love predictable vintages! But as a consumer? B-O-R-I-N-G.) 3) Friuli? OK, that's a good and exciting choice. 2) Barossa? Well, I personally might opt for Margaret River, but the reasons you give for citing the Barossa make sense. 1) "West Sonoma Coast"? Yeah, it is redundant — unless you know of an East Sonoma Coast somewhere — but it's a good pick.

    Now my own personal picks would be different, but that's another issue entirely . . .

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Jason. I'd rather have the discussion than total agreement any day! I didn't find the SB wines boring at all, and did notice vintage variations during a retrospective tasting at one of the vineyards. I was more going for the excitement of SB getting balanced grapes in terms of acid and ripeness, meaning they don't have to mess with the grapes in the winery as often (theoretically!). As for West Sonoma Coast, I felt SC was a big enough region that I should specify that the western-most producers were most exciting for me right now. Cheers!

  • @smidgewines

    Ranking The World’s Most Ass-Kicking Wine Regions (Wined Down) http://t.co/rm69xRK9

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