Lake County, CA
This area north of Napa Valley, and particularly its Red Hills subregion (named for the volcanic soil), has become a source for top-quality Cabernets at non-Napa prices.
Bottle to Try: 2010 Obsidian Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon ($28)
Rich blackberry flavors are at the core of this dark, substantial red.
Salta is high up in the mountains north of Mendoza. The cool temperatures and brilliant light result in aromatic whites from the Torrontés variety.
Bottle to Try: 2011 Hermanos Torrontés ($15)
From a vineyard at 5,500-feet altitude, this minerally white has the aroma of mandarin oranges.
Chile’s southern vineyards are drawing winemaking talent from more famous regions; one reason is acres of old-vine Carignane in the vast Maule region.
Bottle to Try: 2010 Louis-Antoine Luyt Empedrado Carignane ($24)
Luyt uses organically grown grapes from ancient vines for this peppery red.
Elqui Valley, Chile
The cold, clear air of this far-northern region helps make it Chile’s best spot for Syrah. (Astronomers also love it; several observatories are located here.)
Bottle to Try: 2009 Falernia Reserva Syrah ($15)
The inky, spicy character of this intense red recalls the wines of France’s Cornas.
Swartland, South Africa
This long-overlooked region on the Cape is home to a growing number of ambitious young vintners making some of the country’s best Rhône-style reds.
Bottle to Try: 2011 The Curator ($10)
A peppery Syrah blend, this red is made by Adi Badenhorst, one of Swartland’s top wine talents.