The World’s Best Vineyard Is…Not in France

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According to a new ranking by the World’s Best Vineyards Academy, the top vineyard in the world is many miles from France or the Napa Valley: It’s Zuccardi Valle de Uco, in Argentina’s high-altitude Uco Valley. But the best doesn’t necessarily mean most wanted — these are the most wanted wines in the last 20 years

South America shines on this list, in fact: The number two slot is held by Uruguay’s Bodega Garzón, and there are three more South American properties in the top ten, two more from Argentina and one from Chile. In all, Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay hold 15 places in the top 50.

The world’s best vineyards aren’t necessarily the world’s best wineries either. “[T]he Academy went beyond the wines and looked at the whole experience,” according to the organization’s website. The jury of almost 500 wine-lovers, sommeliers, and luxury travel writers from around the world also considered “The restaurant, tour, ambiance, staff, the view, the price, reputation, accessibility, everything that makes a vineyard visit a valuable and rewarding experience for visitors.”

In the case of Zuccardi Valle de Uco, the jury saluted its “architectural gem of a winery complex [and] stunning views of the Andes,” though it also praised the “terroir-driven wines expressing the high-altitude limestone terroir of the Uco Valley.” 

Other vineyards finishing in the top ten included two from Spain and one each from Portugal, New Zealand, and Germany.

The highest-ranking French property on the list was Bordeaux’s Château Smith-Haut-Lafite at number 16 (“A Michelin 2-star rated restaurant, La Grand Vigne; prized sculptures among the vineyards”). California’s best showing was the number-19 Opus One Winery in the Napa Valley (“A show-stopping Bordeaux blend; the Rolls-Royce of Napa wineries”). Australia, Italy, South Africa, Greece, and Canada were also represented in the top 50.

There is an art to producing good wine, and it’s definitely not easy. There are said to be more than 10,000 different wine grape varieties grown around the globe, each changing the taste at least slightly. And there is no shortage of advice on what makes a good wine, but some rules are universal — here are 11 ways to tell if a wine is actually really good.