F&W's Ray Isle discusses the amazing 2005 vintage from France.

Good vintages and bad vintages are highly regional concerns in wine. In fact, weather is so weirdly unpredictable that a sterling year in Burgundy's Côte de Beaune may also be a terrible year in Beaujolais, a mere 70 miles away. However, once in a while, years come along that defy expectations and are good, it seems, almost everywhere in the wine-growing world. The last of these was perhaps 1990, and now the 2005 vintage is laying claim to being the next great worldwide vintage.

In high-prestige regions like Bordeaux and Burgundy, prices are going to be just as stratospheric as quality, particularly for the top wines—$800 for just one bottle of the 2005 Châteaux Margaux would be an extreme example. Nevertheless, true wine lovers should consider drinking 2005s from the following regions, all of which made outstanding wines: Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Loire valley, the southern Rhône valley, Sicily and Sardinia, Germany, Chile and Argentina (for reds), California, Washington State and Australia.

Currently it's possible to find 2005 white wines from almost all of these regions in U.S. wine stores (although the best white Burgundies won't arrive for several months). As for reds, most of the 2005s from Australia, Chile and Argentina are already here as well. (That's because the southern hemisphere is half a year ahead of us—grapes are picked in March and April, rather than September and October.) American Pinot Noirs from the 2005 vintage are just beginning to be released, and the 2005 red Burgundies will mostly arrive later this spring through next fall. Finally, top 2005 Cabernets from California and Washington, and most Bordeaux reds, won't turn up until 2008, with release dates running from January to June or so.