This article is the third of a series of articles shining light on some of the newest wine growing areas in the world. Check out the first article here.
Think of the Netherlands and you may think of colourful fields of tulips and a landscape dotted with windmills. Something like this:
Certainly, vineyards are not one of the things that you associate the Netherlands with. But in recent years winemaking lifted off and the cheeseheads started getting serious about making wine. Back in 2003 the country had only 25 hectares of its agricultural land cultivate wine grapes, but over the years this number increased to an impressive 157 hectares. This number is still peanuts when compared to major wine-growing regions such as Bordeaux, totalling a stunning 124,000 hectares (!), but it does show something’s happening in the wine-making world in the Low Lands.
Contrary to what one may expect, winemaking is not something they have only recently started doing. It were the Romans who first introduced wine cultivation in the 10th century, but due to a variety of reasons, such as climate, politics and wars there was practically no wine made in the Netherlands until the 1970s. But it wasn’t until the 1990s when innovative wine makers took charge and set the foundation for what has become this new uprise of wine in the Netherlands.
There are two producers that played a very important role in the Dutch winemaking industry. These pioneers raised the bar and managed to consistently improve quality over the years.
Wines of “De Kleine Schorre’ are served in KLM’s Business Class and available in many of the country’s Michelin-starred restaurants. Located near the coast in the South-West of the country, in the province Zeeland, it has unique soil characteristics, rich of calcium.
Wine estate ‘Apostelhoeve” (alert: website is in Dutch only) is probably the most well-known producer in the Netherlands. Situated in the southernmost of the country it is only minutes away from neighbouring Belgium and Germany and is therefore exposed to more sun hours than other parts of the country.
The pioneers of the Dutch winemaking industry spent a lot of time and effort in finding the right grape varieties suitable in the damp and cool climate in the Netherlands.
Popular varieties for white wine include some of the traditional Alsace grapes, such as Riesling, Auxerrois and Pinot Gris. Hybrid varieties that work particularly well in the Dutch climate are Johanniter and Solaris.
The vast majority of wine made is white, with a few of the producers also making reds using the hybrids Regent and Rondo for its resistance against fungal diseases.
Close to a million bottles of Dutch wine are made each year, but due to its high price the wine is hardly exported. International wine critic Jancis Robinson has indicated several times that she is very impressed with some of the Dutch wines and believes these are now superior to their English counterparts. It is evident; Dutch wine found its way up and we are excited how the industry will further develop in the next few years and decades.
Make sure to try these wines if you happen to fly KLM’s Business Class or if you dine in one of the finer restaurants in the Netherlands.
Have you experienced other Newest World Wine regions that are worth sharing? Let us know in the comments below!
Albert & Willem